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 > Choosing our first travel trailer! Big family

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Thermoguy

Graham, WA

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Posted: 10/17/20 09:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jas1317 wrote:

Are there any campers that don’t have so many negative reviews?? There are SO MANY bad reviews!
Where we are in NY there isn’t much other than camper world!


I don't think it matters where you buy or what you buy if it is what you want and you think you got a good deal for you. Just go in knowing what you need to know - related to what can my truck pull or what truck do I need to pull this trailer. Lots of info on this forum so be educated and you will be fine. I have a 32' bunk house I pull with a 3/4 ton truck. I would like a bigger trailer but don't have a truck with enough payload to pull a bigger trailer. (I have a 5th wheel, not a TT). When it comes to buying from a dealer, same goes if buying a new car, don't take the salesman's word for it, educate yourself. Trailer warranties are usually 1-2 years max, your on your own after that. I also appears many warranties are only so good. So, educate yourself. I bought my trailer used, got lucky as I only had 1 major issue that needed to be fixed, $2500 later, it has been great ever since. But, trailers need lots of maintenance.

2012Coleman

Florida

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Posted: 10/20/20 08:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jas1317 wrote:



...Please tell me more about avoiding camping world. They had so many choices!...


Here is all you should need to know.


Experience without good judgment is worthless; good judgment without experience is still good judgment!

2018 RAM 3500 Big Horn CTD
2018 Grand Design Reflection 303RLS

spoon059

Just north of D.C.

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Posted: 10/20/20 09:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OP, how old are the kids and what gender are they? That will influence some of the decisions. I'll give you this advice though...

Look for a camper with a bunk room, rather than just bunks. I grew up camping in a small trailer with bunks with a curtain screen for "privacy". There is no ventilation in their and it gets HOT in the summer. They were tight little coffins. Close walls on 3 sides and a tight ceiling.

We have a 2015 Jayflight 29QBS that has a back bunk ROOM. The box is actually 31' and the overall length is 34' and its GVWR is 9500 lbs, including over 2000 lbs of cargo and water capacity. It has 2 bunks on one side and an elevated double bunk on the other side. The bunks are mostly open, except for the last 24" on the 2 single bunks. There is a curtain to close off the room, but there is an AC and heat vent in the room itself. Having open bunk areas allows for air to circulate and maintain a comfortable temperature. As much as we like our camper, we wish we had gotten a slightly different model that had a slide out in the bunk room as well. We had a half ton truck at the time and tried to make the truck work with the bigger camper. Ultimately we didn't like the towing experience and bought a bigger truck. If I had known a bigger truck was in the immediate future, we would have bought the slightly bigger camper too.

We have an outdoor kitchen as well, that sits under the elevated double bunk. Initially we didn't want the outdoor kitchen, but loved everything else about the trailer. We anticipated taking out the kitchen and turning it into more storage space. We quickly learned that we LOVE the outdoor kitchen. We cook most meals outside, rather than having the odor and humidity inside. Having the outdoor fridge allows us to keep drinks there so our older kids aren't constantly in and out, leaving door open, letting heat in, waking up the toddler, etc. We don't use the outdoor stove as much anymore now that we bought a 22" Blackstone griddle.

Staying in a camper for more than a week, you're going to want a slide out. Rainy days with kids can be a disaster in a small camper. Having open space inside where they can play, color, read or just have separate space from each other is golden. We do several week long trips every year and a 3 week Florida winter trip every year. Inevitably you'll get a day with less ideal weather (rain, too hot, etc) and need some downtime inside. A slide in the main room gives you that space.

We have friends we camp with that now have a 16 year old daughter and 13 year old son. They bought a bunkhouse model when the kids were slightly younger and they shared it. Now the 16 year old has the bunkroom for her own and the 13 year old sleeps on the dinette every night. We like the idea of some of the 5th wheels that we've seen that have a loft area. We have a girl, boy and girl. Our next trailer will serve as they hit their teens and we want to have separate space for the girls to have privacy. Something to consider depending upon age/sex of your kids.

You talk about a cross country trip, which is going to be lots of moving with a couple days rest between. Some recommended ditching the 3 way fridge and getting a residential style... I don't see that as a benefit for cross country travel. I don't know that I would feel comfortable leaving a residential style fridge unplugged during a long day of hauling and hoping its still cold enough to keep the food safe at the end of the day. Now, if you stay at a campground for a month at a time, a residential style sounds more appealing to me. We carry food with us and keep the fridge running on propane while we drive to keep food cold. I would do more research and get real-world experience from people about whether or not a residential style will keep food cold while you're on the road.

Good luck, have fun!

* This post was edited 10/20/20 09:47am by spoon059 *


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spoon059

Just north of D.C.

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Posted: 10/20/20 09:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

camp-n-family wrote:

A model like our Keystone Bullet 31bhpr would fit the bill. There are several brands that have the same floor plan but I found the Keystone to be the lightest by a large margin and the quality was better than most.

It’s 34’ tongue to bumper and only 6400lbs dry. 8k gvwr. I wouldn’t tow it with less than a 3/4t truck or van.

Not to trash your brand by any means, so please don't take it that way, but I would NOT recommend a "lightweight" trailer for longer trips. Lightweight trailers have smaller tanks and more fragile build. They are lighter because they have thinner cabinets, thinner seats, thinner supports on the beds, etc. That's fine for a weekend trip, but that stuff will wear out and break quickly on a longer trip. Small tanks can become a problem out West where you might be staying at a state or federal park with no hookups and less than ideal bath houses.

Storage will be minimal and your cargo carrying capacity (including water) will be significantly smaller. Clothes, toys, bikes, food, computers, work stuff, chairs, etc all need to be stored someplace if you want to use them over a longer trip. A lightweight trailer likely won't have large storage areas and won't have a lot of available weight in the GVWR.

On edit I see the OP has a 3/4 ton truck, so some of that weight can be put in the truck, but it would still requiring shuffling things around constantly and exposing things to the weather.

Jas1317

NY

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Posted: 10/20/20 04:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2012Coleman wrote:

Jas1317 wrote:



...Please tell me more about avoiding camping world. They had so many choices!...


Here is all you should need to know.


O.M.G.

Jas1317

NY

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Posted: 10/20/20 04:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

spoon059 wrote:

OP, how old are the kids and what gender are they? That will influence some of the decisions. I'll give you this advice though...

Look for a camper with a bunk room, rather than just bunks. I grew up camping in a small trailer with bunks with a curtain screen for "privacy". There is no ventilation in their and it gets HOT in the summer. They were tight little coffins. Close walls on 3 sides and a tight ceiling.

We have a 2015 Jayflight 29QBS that has a back bunk ROOM. The box is actually 31' and the overall length is 34' and its GVWR is 9500 lbs, including over 2000 lbs of cargo and water capacity. It has 2 bunks on one side and an elevated double bunk on the other side. The bunks are mostly open, except for the last 24" on the 2 single bunks. There is a curtain to close off the room, but there is an AC and heat vent in the room itself. Having open bunk areas allows for air to circulate and maintain a comfortable temperature. As much as we like our camper, we wish we had gotten a slightly different model that had a slide out in the bunk room as well. We had a half ton truck at the time and tried to make the truck work with the bigger camper. Ultimately we didn't like the towing experience and bought a bigger truck. If I had known a bigger truck was in the immediate future, we would have bought the slightly bigger camper too.

We have an outdoor kitchen as well, that sits under the elevated double bunk. Initially we didn't want the outdoor kitchen, but loved everything else about the trailer. We anticipated taking out the kitchen and turning it into more storage space. We quickly learned that we LOVE the outdoor kitchen. We cook most meals outside, rather than having the odor and humidity inside. Having the outdoor fridge allows us to keep drinks there so our older kids aren't constantly in and out, leaving door open, letting heat in, waking up the toddler, etc. We don't use the outdoor stove as much anymore now that we bought a 22" Blackstone griddle.

Staying in a camper for more than a week, you're going to want a slide out. Rainy days with kids can be a disaster in a small camper. Having open space inside where they can play, color, read or just have separate space from each other is golden. We do several week long trips every year and a 3 week Florida winter trip every year. Inevitably you'll get a day with less ideal weather (rain, too hot, etc) and need some downtime inside. A slide in the main room gives you that space.

We have friends we camp with that now have a 16 year old daughter and 13 year old son. They bought a bunkhouse model when the kids were slightly younger and they shared it. Now the 16 year old has the bunkroom for her own and the 13 year old sleeps on the dinette every night. We like the idea of some of the 5th wheels that we've seen that have a loft area. We have a girl, boy and girl. Our next trailer will serve as they hit their teens and we want to have separate space for the girls to have privacy. Something to consider depending upon age/sex of your kids.

You talk about a cross country trip, which is going to be lots of moving with a couple days rest between. Some recommended ditching the 3 way fridge and getting a residential style... I don't see that as a benefit for cross country travel. I don't know that I would feel comfortable leaving a residential style fridge unplugged during a long day of hauling and hoping its still cold enough to keep the food safe at the end of the day. Now, if you stay at a campground for a month at a time, a residential style sounds more appealing to me. We carry food with us and keep the fridge running on propane while we drive to keep food cold. I would do more research and get real-world experience from people about whether or not a residential style will keep food cold while you're on the road.

Good luck, have fun!


Thanks so much this was all so helpful and what you said makes sense and sounds like the direction we are heading in! Which is reassuring!
We have all girls - 9, 6, 3. We definitely prefer that bunk room format for sure! And I think theoretically we would get a lot of use out of the outdoor kitchen!
So interesting about the fridge, really good points.

Jas1317

NY

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Posted: 10/20/20 09:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

spoon059 wrote:

camp-n-family wrote:

A model like our Keystone Bullet 31bhpr would fit the bill. There are several brands that have the same floor plan but I found the Keystone to be the lightest by a large margin and the quality was better than most.

It’s 34’ tongue to bumper and only 6400lbs dry. 8k gvwr. I wouldn’t tow it with less than a 3/4t truck or van.

Not to trash your brand by any means, so please don't take it that way, but I would NOT recommend a "lightweight" trailer for longer trips. Lightweight trailers have smaller tanks and more fragile build. They are lighter because they have thinner cabinets, thinner seats, thinner supports on the beds, etc. That's fine for a weekend trip, but that stuff will wear out and break quickly on a longer trip. Small tanks can become a problem out West where you might be staying at a state or federal park with no hookups and less than ideal bath houses.

Storage will be minimal and your cargo carrying capacity (including water) will be significantly smaller. Clothes, toys, bikes, food, computers, work stuff, chairs, etc all need to be stored someplace if you want to use them over a longer trip. A lightweight trailer likely won't have large storage areas and won't have a lot of available weight in the GVWR.

On edit I see the OP has a 3/4 ton truck, so some of that weight can be put in the truck, but it would still requiring shuffling things around constantly and exposing things to the weather.


I wondered about this with the lightweight trailers - I was told at camper world that they are just as sturdy, just made better/lighter/etc. But what you are saying makes sense. What travel trailers do you recommend?

spoon059

Just north of D.C.

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Posted: 10/21/20 08:57am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jas1317 wrote:

I wondered about this with the lightweight trailers - I was told at camper world that they are just as sturdy, just made better/lighter/etc. But what you are saying makes sense. What travel trailers do you recommend?

My recommendation is to go to lots of RV shows. Living in the DC area, we had yearly shows in VA, in MD and PA that we went to. I went for 2 years straight and walked through as many campers as I could. Different manufacturers and different build levels.

Floor rigidity- lots of campers had soft or spongy feeling floors. I quickly discounted those.

Cabinets- lots of campers are glued/stapled drawers or very thin cabinets. That is to save weight and save time assembling. I didn't care for those because wear and tear will quickly destroy them.

Floorplans- Lots of floorplans look good on the internet, but when you actually stand in the space they are poorly designed. I remember cabinets that couldn't open all the way because they hit the slide out wall. I remember a bathroom that didn't provide enough room for me to stretch my arms out to towel off my back. You see some floorplans that appear to have a walkaround bed in front, but the mattress is 6" from the wall and you can't walk around it.

Build components- I wanted a trailer with Dexter components, which give me more confidence than Lippert. Lippert, in my opinion, builds to an absolute bare minimum. Having looked at Dexter axles and Lippert axles, I wanted to avoid Lippert. Having looked at Lippert frames, I wanted to avoid Lippert.

I ultimately decided on my 2015 Jayco. My in-laws bought a 2016 Jayco, which must have been after the sale to Thor, and some things were still higher quality, but some things had obviously changed for the "cheaper" while the cost increased.

This is a long way of saying I don't know enough about what is out there now to make a recommendation. Airstream are known for being top notch, but they are also 3-4 times as expensive and I don't think they have slides anymore. We have a friend that owns a Grand Design Reflection series 5th wheel that seems well made. I have always had an affinity for Northwoods, who make the Arctic Fox and the Nash. Our first trailer was a Nash and was very well put together (but pretty heavy for a small trailer). They are more expensive and harder to find, but they put a lot of features and quality components in them. I like to research how things are built, but lots of manufacturers won't list the build type or components or stuff like that. That worried me.

Take recommendations from people here and start going to RV shows and walking through these campers. Have your kids lay in the bunks and see how ergonomic it is. Go into the bathroom and sit on the toilet, step into the shower and simulate washing yourself, step out and simulate drying yourself. Practice walking around with your spouse in the kitchen area as you would be preparing and serving meals. Think about where you would store stuff, how much clothes you need for a cross country trip. Do you need a washer/dryer in your rig or do you expect to wash clothes at the campground equipment? Do you plan to bring food and make your own meals? If so how much pantry space do you need, how much fridge space do you need? Are you a coffee drinker? Where can you stow a coffee maker for transport, where can you put it on a counter when you have arrived?

Things like that really helped narrow it down for us and got a great camper. We are about to complete our 6th year with our camper and still love it. We wish we had bought the slightly bigger one with the slide in the kids room, but we didn't know we'd have a bigger truck when we bought it. Too many people see a cool feature, or a flashy design and buy without planning ahead. Don't get into that mess. Take your time try things out. Buy the right trailer the first time!

Good luck!!!

camp-n-family

London, Ontario

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Posted: 10/21/20 09:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jas1317 wrote:

spoon059 wrote:

camp-n-family wrote:

A model like our Keystone Bullet 31bhpr would fit the bill. There are several brands that have the same floor plan but I found the Keystone to be the lightest by a large margin and the quality was better than most.

It’s 34’ tongue to bumper and only 6400lbs dry. 8k gvwr. I wouldn’t tow it with less than a 3/4t truck or van.

Not to trash your brand by any means, so please don't take it that way, but I would NOT recommend a "lightweight" trailer for longer trips. Lightweight trailers have smaller tanks and more fragile build. They are lighter because they have thinner cabinets, thinner seats, thinner supports on the beds, etc. That's fine for a weekend trip, but that stuff will wear out and break quickly on a longer trip. Small tanks can become a problem out West where you might be staying at a state or federal park with no hookups and less than ideal bath houses.

Storage will be minimal and your cargo carrying capacity (including water) will be significantly smaller. Clothes, toys, bikes, food, computers, work stuff, chairs, etc all need to be stored someplace if you want to use them over a longer trip. A lightweight trailer likely won't have large storage areas and won't have a lot of available weight in the GVWR.

On edit I see the OP has a 3/4 ton truck, so some of that weight can be put in the truck, but it would still requiring shuffling things around constantly and exposing things to the weather.


I wondered about this with the lightweight trailers - I was told at camper world that they are just as sturdy, just made better/lighter/etc. But what you are saying makes sense. What travel trailers do you recommend?


Lightweight doesn’t have to mean cheap and flimsy. I’m not sure where all the weight savings comes from but our trailer uses a lot of aluminum in its structure (including the framing under the bed) instead of heavier wood. The aluminum is stronger. Cabinetry is hardwood. The appliances are the same as every other trailer. Our trailer has the same layout as heavier brands so it has the same amount of storage. It may have smaller tanks (40gal fresh, 30 black and grey)but that’s only an issue if you boondock a lot. They are big enough for our family of 4 to last comfortably for 5 days.

We have pulled this trailer over 40,000kms in 7 years. Halfway across Canada twice, rough interstates, mountains, dirt roads etc. We have friends that camp with us on occasion. He is 400+lbs. Never had anything fall apart or break.


'17 Ram 2500 Crewcab Laramie CTD
'13 Keystone Bullet Premier 310BHPR
Hitched by Hensley


Jas1317

NY

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Posted: 11/07/20 10:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We bought our first camper today! Thank you for all your responses and help! We ended up with a new jay o 32bhds! I hope we chose wisely. [emoticon]

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