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Trailer Width and Length


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We are in the process of selecting a travel trailer for the two of use to us for retirement travel.. Our plan is to use it to visit National and State Parks and Forests and stay primarily out of campgrounds, dry camping. We anticipate a lot of narrow winding roads. We previously had a pickup camper we travled thoughout Baja, and it was pretty big at 8 feet wide.

 

One trailer we particularly like is an Arctic Fox 22G which has a width of 8.5 feet.

 

Having towed only small tent trailer and a small boat, I want to hear suggestions about the effect of width on traveling, especially on narrow roads, but I also imagine there is an effect when turning a corner. What are your experiences? What was the learning curve like?

 

Second question is about length. We have seen signs in parks and read descriptions that limit length of towed vehicles or total size to some length. What are your opinions on the practical length of the trailer for traveling difficult roads but then having reasonable comfort when you arrive at the destination? We are currently considering vehicles in the 18-22 foot length, trying to keep the overall length to 25 feet or less.

 

Thanks in advance for your experiences.

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Having maneuvered a 33' TT, a 35' 5th wheel, a 40' diesel pusher and now a 29' class A on many roads and campgrounds in NF's and BLM areas, my experience is that there are lots of winding twisting roads you can tow an under 25' TT into remote areas. Width is not much of a problem. The overhand on the rear of the trailer is what will cause a problem. Too long an overhang will drag on the dips. There are times the bottom of the hitch may drag as well

 

I research the roads with computer maps. I use Delorme Street Atlas & Topo maps and make extensive use of Google Earth. If there is any question about the road, we will drop the rig and use the car or tow vehicle to explore the place we want to go. Additionally, many times we have camped in an easy to access place for 2 nights and spent one full day exploring the area in the car/tow vehicle looking for places we want to camp.

 

Consider how you feel about having bushes & tree limbs brushing the top & sides of the trailer.

 

The more experience you have in maneuvering in tight spaces the better. There will be times parts of your tow vehicle front bumper will be within 1-2 feet of an obstacle and some part of your trailer will be the same distance from another obstacle at the same time. It takes careful driving to keep from damaging something.

 

Do you have experience boondocking in a 22' TT? Most small trailers have limited fresh water, gray & black water capacity and very limited battery capacity. There are people who do boondock in small trailers but they work hard at conserving.

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Al,

 

We do have experience bonndocking in Baja in a pickup camper which has even less capacity than a trailer. We were able to manage a week or more with what we could stuff into that rig. It had a service body with lots of storage which we used for extra water and propane. It just got too small and Baja got too dangerous so we gave it up.

 

As for brush scrapes, we view those as indications we went somewhere interesting. WE'd like to avoid too many scratches but they are inevitable.

 

Maneuvering in tight spaces is my biggest concern and that is where I lack skill and expereince. As you saidthere is no substitute fr practice.

 

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

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Al mentions the overhang of the trailer which affects the angle of attack that the rig can handle. Another consideration is the ground clearance of both the tow vehicle and the trailer. Some folks flip the axles on smaller trailers to get more ground clearance for off road use. He made some good points about checking out an area. I learned the hard way to look for places to turn around if a large downed tree or wash out was encountered before reaching my desired location. Practice backing up as much as you can. I took a trailer driving course many years ago where the instructor set out cones in a couple hundred yard long serpetine pattern and the students had to back through the course with out knocking down the cones. Came in handy when I came upon a large tree across a forest road. Seemed like I was backing up forever to get to a place where I could turn around and that took what seemed like a 300 point u-turn. After that experience, I added a chain saw to my tool box. Disconnecting the trailer and turning it around by hand like we did a number of times with a pop-up is not an option with most travel trailers.

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You might PM this Escapees member and pick his brain about experiences with maneuvering a travel trailer. They have a lot of experience doing what you are planning. Including towing their TT 400 miles up the gravel haul road from Fairbanks, AK to Prudhoe Bay and back. Here is a link to their blog of that trip. Here is a link to the start of their AK trip in 2011. Medical problems have limited their travels in the last year or two.

Here is a link to their blogs.

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One trailer we particularly like is an Arctic Fox 22G which has a width of 8.5 feet.

 

Having towed only small tent trailer and a small boat, I want to hear suggestions about the effect of width on traveling, especially on narrow roads, but I also imagine there is an effect when turning a corner. What are your experiences? What was the learning curve like?

First of all, I think that you are clearly looking at a good choice of RV. Most RVs today are that same width, with only the smallest available now built to the old 8' (96") width because of the advantages of that extra width. Since your tow vehicle will extend a bit wider than that with towing mirrors included, the extra width should make little difference in travels. It might be an issue if you plan to tow it on forest service trails or really off the beaten path but as long as you stay with well traveled roads I can see no reason for concern.

 

Length is one of those things which are very subjective. I have known people who believed that anything more than 20' was excessive and I know others who see no issues at all with 40+'. We presently tow a trailer that is 19' on the inside and probably at least 24' from tongue to bumper. There are forest service campgrounds and a few more remote national park campground that are not available to us with even our small RV, but most of us would be very unlikely to go to one of those anyway. Backing any trailer is more of a challenge than most of us admit, but that too can be overcome with practice and patients. Boonedocking will be the main issue, but I suspect that with the pickup camper you had only one battery and a small water tank so you already know what that requires. To make the change to this trailer, just compare the size of tanks to the truck's and a little math will tell you how long you can stay. It would be pretty simple to add an extra battery or two and you could even add solar if you want to stay longer. With a trailer you can also easily leave it parked and bring more water to it, if needed. There are also readily available portable waste tanks that could be used to extend your stay in such places. Tank size is the most limiting feature of the trailer that we tow, but since we rarely do any dry camping it is of little problem for us.

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  • 1 month later...

I agree that the bottoming out of the rear of trailer and general ground clearance might be the biggest issues. My trailer is 7' wide, 25' long, not counting tongue. I've towed it in some tight places, but always watch out for the clearance issue. And, a way to turn around!

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A travel trailer that is 8.5' will require a little patience and skill on many forest service roads. If an oncoming vehicle is also wide you may need to be very careful. We tow a 39' 5er behind a HDT and we enjoy boondocking in the National Forest so it can be done but the drive in and out can be a little nerve racking at times. We like to schedule the driving during the week and try to avoid holidays. Once you arrive the larger RV is really comfortable. I think the size you are considering is as good as it gets for what you want to do but everyone is different. The most important thing in my my mind is to drive slow and be patient.

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If you have not already done so, consider signing up on the NROA (Northwood RV Owners Association) forum: www.afnash.com

There you can ask Arctic Fox (and Nash and some other lines) owners about real experience.

 

My personal experience of changing from a 27ft long 96" wide travel trailer to an AF of 28+ft long and 102" wide focuses mostly on the backing up of the rig.

The stock extending mirrors on my truck (when aimed parallel to the sides of the trailer) do not show as much area behind the trailer as I would like.

On my old truck that had only "sport" mirrors, I used abs-plastic slip on extension mirrors ( CIPA was the brand I liked ); however that was with the old narrower trailer.

 

A bicycle is a good scouting tool.

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