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 > Gap year, family of 6, TV and TT recommendations

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gringopapo

Utah

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Posted: 10/08/19 08:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This is a long post. Here's the short version: Looking to tow a Kodiak Ultra - Lite 283BHSL (7600 lbs GVW, 33 ft total length) with Ford Expedition heavy tow package. Not over the GCVW but close. Will travel across country for a year.

Hi,

For various reasons our family wants to take a gap year and go across country. We don't plan on going until 2022 and I'm starting preparations now. I've done a lot of internet research and have been impressed with the good (blunt = good) advice given to people like me that don't have the experience of towing larger trailers.

Here's some background on our current experience:
We have a tent trailer that we currently tow with a Honda Odyssey. We are a family of 6 (11 yo, 9 yo, 6 yo, 4 yo) and it's a small tent trailer (Rockwwod 1940 LTD). We are into minimizing space and weight and do just fine in tight spaces with minimal gear. I've been towing it for 4 seasons now and we've taken it out a lot. The Odyssey has a maximum towing capacity of 3500 lbs. The loaded trailer is about 2500 lbs. I can definately feel it behind me for the first couple of hours, but then it sort of melds into the van and I don't think about it as much.

For the gap year, obviously a tent trailer isn't going to cut it. I will be purchasing a new tow vehicle as well. Because we will be living out of the trailer it needs to be big enough to allow for kids to home school, me to work, and to be somewhat comfortable. A bunk house as a minimum and a separate room for the kids would be ideal.

I think the best thing would be to get a 3/4 or 1 ton truck with plenty of towing capacity for a 33 foot (total length) trailer. However, we have a hard time believing that a 6 seater pickup truck will be comfortable for 15000 miles of driving. I've never been a pickup fan and am used to vans and SUVs.

The problem with the current market is there is no 3/4 ton SUV option available anymore. The closest would be a Ford Expedition which is a 1/2 ton frame.

So I'm wondering how crazy it would be to get an ultralight 33' total length trailer such as the Kodiak Ultra - Lite 283BHSL. The numbers would work like this: 9300 pound towing capacity - 7600 pound GVW - 600 pounds people weight - 200 pound wet weight in TV = 900 pounds safety. Of course I would have to look at Axle Weights and tongue weights but that's still a small amount safety weight. I'm probably forgetting stuff so please shoot me down.

If our family can be disciplined about weight we could start from the dry weight and add up from there to allow for additional safety factors.

My two concers would be:
1) I'm right at the limit with this trailer without much, if any, safety factor to take into account the mountain passes and the weather I will be facing and
2) a 30' (33' total length) living space trailer will be a large sail in the wind and I worry I will be white knuckling it too often.

What do you all think? Am I stuck with a smaller 29' total length Kodiak Ultra-Lite 248BHSL instead (which removes the separate quad bunkhouse) or do you think I could make it with the 33'?

Also, is there any advice out there for a large family making the cab of a pickup truck work? Maybe we make it work knowing it will be a short time in the pickup truck.

Please be blunt with your advice based on your own experience.

Thanks

Campfire Time

Wisconsin

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Posted: 10/08/19 08:45am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You are forgetting your payload. The truck will have a sticker in the door listing max payload available. That's the total weight you can carry inside the truck. Large SUVs can be all over the place on this, but many have a smaller payload than their full size PU truck equivalents.

Your tongue weight which, if you maxed out the trailer weight, at 13% would be 988#. Then there is the weight of the WDH hitch itself, often reaching 100#. So if your payload is generous and it's 1600#, the tongue and hitch leave 512# in the truck. You are saying your family and "stuff" is 800#. That puts you 288# over your payload.

I'm thinking you'll need at least a 3/4 ton truck to make this work. I can't comment on travel with a family in a crew cab PU, but I know there are those here that can.

I wish you the best!


Chuck D.
“Adventure is just bad planning.” - Roald Amundsen
2013 Jayco X20E Hybrid, 2008 GMC Sierra SLE1 Crew Cab Z71


gringopapo

Utah

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Posted: 10/08/19 09:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Good point on Payload. Looking up the specs on the 2019 Expedition (https://www.caranddriver.com/ford/expedition-expedition-max/specs) the maximum payload is 1758 pounds. So a maxed out trailer weight would only leave me 670 pounds for humans and stuff. You're right, that is cutting it close.

I do gain more weight allowance if I don't load the trailer to its maximum, but because the tongue weight is such a small percentage I don't gain much. If I load the trailer to 6800 pounds that allows for 774 pounds in humans and stuff. Hmmmm... that might be a limiting factor.

Turtle n Peeps

California

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Posted: 10/08/19 09:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

gringopapo wrote:

Please be blunt with your advice based on your own experience.
Thanks


I like you already! [emoticon]

So there are several things you need to think about. Did you think about them? I have no idea?

#1. You aren't going to do this for 2 years. Kids grow A LOT in 2 years. Believe me, I know!

#2. Payload. You are going to run out of payload in a hurry with a 1/2 ton.

#3. With full timing, you gain weight over time. I took a 3 week vacation to Canada this year and we gained a lot of weight along the way by buying stuff to bring back home. Full timing is going to be worse X10.

#4. There is a HUGE difference between living full time in an ultralite trailer and a HD trailer. Most trailers are not designed for full time living. UL trailer REALLY aren't. Things will start falling apart real quickly if you get an UL trailer.

#5. HD trailers for FT living are HEAVY! REAL HEAVY! For a heavy trailer you need a heavy truck IMHO.

^^^^^ That's all the bad news for you.

Now some good news.

15,000 miles is not that much. IOW's you will be sitting a LOT. I put on almost 5K on my 3 week vacation. That being the case you "might" be able to get away with a 1/2 ton. (I wouldn't personally do it, but you might be able to do it if you're not in a hurry to get from A to B.)

So, where does that leave you? It just depends on what you want to do. I personally would get a HD trailer for full time living and a HD 1 ton 4 door diesel pickup to pull it. But that's me.

Good luck on you adventure. Sounds fun!


~ Too many freaks & not enough circuses ~


"Life is not tried ~ it is merely survived ~ if you're standing
outside the fire"

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."- Abraham Lincoln


parker.rowe

Delaware

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Posted: 10/08/19 09:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Do you need 4wd/awd?

I see a lot of people with bigger families towing with the Nissan NV3500 fullsize Vans.

It really is a bummer that their are no HD SUV's anymore. Especially since the full-size vans available are terrible out of date for anyone not wanting a full on work truck.

I know a bunch of people on this forum say they have no problem stuffing 6 people in a crew cab, but I would never do it unless I REALLY had to.

Your payload numbers on the expedition are really close to the edge if not over. Looking at the options in 6 row SUV's though, it is probably the most capable if you are buying new.


2015 Starcraft TravelStar 239TBS 6500 GVWR
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brant_c

midwest

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Posted: 10/08/19 09:57am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It can be done...but I wouldn't do it.

My buddy uses a Ford E350 2015 with the 5.4 liter motor. Pulls a Bullet Ultra Light (Don't know the exact model).

There are six of them.

He hated towing over the Rockies.

Another buddy has a 2015 F250 with the gas 6.0 pulling a Wolfpack (Don't know the exact model). There are five of them. He also hated pulling over the Rockies. He was doing 35MPH at 5500 RPMs in the truck lane. He told me this after they got back July 2019.

You could start out with what you have. Since you are going for a year, is it in your budget to upgrade if you don't like your setup?

Good luck.


2015 F250 Platinum 6.7
2006 RPM 23FB Toy Hauler


gringopapo

Utah

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Posted: 10/08/19 10:13am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

All,

Thanks for the replies.

Turtle n Peeps:
1) I alotted just 50 pounds in additional weight in 2.5 years. If my two youngest would actually eat then I could probably alott 100 pounds. To be conservative I should probably stick with 100 pounds.
2) Payload will be under but close if we engineer it. It may be a limiting factor though.
3) I hadn't thought about gaining weight over time. I'll need to figure that out.
4) What kinds of things would you say fall apart on an ultralight vs a HD trailer? Are we talking essentials like heater and fridge or are we talking things like faucets and trim?
5) If we go with 3/4 - 1 ton pickup truck we may just do a fifth wheel. And, yes, they are way heavy... not even sure where all that weight is coming from.

parker.rowe:
We won't need a 4wd for what we are planning to do. I looked at the NV2500 and its towing capcity is only about 7000 pounds. It does have a lot more cargo room though.

brant c:
I've thought about going with a much smaller trailer, like a 24' with a double bunk and seeing if that works and then upgrading if it absolutely doesn't. However, that is making a pricey Experience-vacation that much more expensive.

Thanks for all your feedback. Keep it coming!

APT

SE Michigan

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Posted: 10/08/19 10:31am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Get a 1-ton van. No half ton towing 7500 pounds loaded with a family of 6 and their stuff for a year will be comfortable.

Nissan NV3500
GM Twins (Chevy Express GMC Savana 6.0L

Payloads are over 2500 pounds. Tow ratings are 8500+ pounds. Fuel tanks are larger (i.e. longer distance between fillups @ 8mpg) They cost 60% or less of comparable half ton SUV.


A & A parents of DD 2005, DS1 2007, DS2 2009
2011 Suburban 2500 6.0L 3.73 pulling 2011 Heartland North Trail 28BRS
2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R

Tyler0215

Iowa

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Posted: 10/08/19 10:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Taking a full year in a TT you are going to want as much room as possible.
A full size van would be my choice.
You'll drive more than 15K in a year.

camper1013

Twin Cities

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Posted: 10/08/19 11:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As one that upgraded from a tent trailer to travel trailer to 5th wheel, I think you should look at 5th wheels and a big truck. Right now we have 3 kids in the back of ours and they do fine. They tow much nicer and wind does not seem to affect them like a travel trailer.
Have you thought about renting a truck and going for a road trip to see how you all fit for a longer drive?
If you are full time, you will want the separate bunk space for the kids to have their own space. Its nice at night to be able to close the door and still be able to use the living space without waking them up.
You will also be amazed at how you will seem to fill the space in a larger trailer with more stuff and more weight.
One thing to think of is where you plan to go. Some spots are hard to get into with longer trailers if you get too big.

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