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New Camper, need a different vehicle


WICamper
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I just purchased a KZ 160 RBT hybrid trailer (gvwr 3,500 dry weight is 2790) and realized after towing it with my Chevy Traverse with the trailer package up to 5000 lbs, I need a better towing vehicle. I have an equalizer 4 weight distribution hitch. I am looking for suggestions for a better towing vehicle. We are a family of 5 with 3 teens. We also bike when we camp, so on top on typical camping gear, add 5 bikes to the mix. What vehicle would be best to haul our camper, our people and bikes?! I would prefer an SUV and we are planning a trip to Colorado this summer. What vehicle handles best in mountains hauling a camper? 

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2 minutes ago, WICamper said:

I just purchased a KZ 160 RBT hybrid trailer (gvwr 3,500 dry weight is 2790) and realized after towing it with my Chevy Traverse with the trailer package up to 5000 lbs, I need a better towing vehicle. I have an equalizer 4 weight distribution hitch. I am looking for suggestions for a better towing vehicle. We are a family of 5 with 3 teens. We also bike when we camp, so on top on typical camping gear, add 5 bikes to the mix. What vehicle would be best to haul our camper, our people and bikes?! I would prefer an SUV and we are planning a trip to Colorado this summer. What vehicle handles best in mountains hauling a camper? 

Welcome to the forums! That is a very subjective question and one I am sure will get you several different answers. Your family size definitively warrants a larger vehicle as the weight of passengers gets added to the "cargo" capacity of the vehicle. If you are a Chevy person I would suggest looking at a Tahoe or Suburban.  There are other large SUVs out there, of course. 

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Another welcome to the Escapee forums!

I agree with what Gary has just responded. The 5000# tow rating of the Traverse is the absolute maximum that can be safely towed, assuming that you are not exceeding any of the other weight limits. Towing at the maximum capacity for any vehicle is not the ideal and is usually tiring to drive with any tow vehicle. Most experienced RV owners will recommend that you stay below 80% of the vehicle's maximum tow rating for comfortable travels. 

Another factor is the fact that single axle trailers have more tendency to rock fore & aft, that also impacts driver comfort and handling. The same is true for the length of the travel trailer as compared to the tow vehicle. There are others on these forums who are more expert than I on such issues so hopefully they will respond soon. In general, the bigger and heavier the tow vehicle is, the less stressful towing is.

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Welcome - here’s the deal -

Towing anything with a boxy shape requires power (hp) to overcome the aero drag resistance of the box. Today’s vehicles have high gearing so the engine turns at low rpm making just enough power to cruise at best fuel economy.

For an engine to develop enough power, it must have enough torque at the desired rpm.  
Rated max HP is not meaningful in day to day towing except when the peddle is on the rug.

You want to look at torque characteristics. The lower the rpm max torque is available the better the engine will feel when towing day to day.
 

To develop high enough torque at low rpm an engine needs to have more displacement, high compression (like a diesel) or supercharging (or turbocharging) to mimic high compression - or a combination of these characteristics. 
A turbocharged 2.3 or 2.7 engine might be satisfactory and give good economy not towing. 

 

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Sadly I have even more bad news for you.  Your trailer has a cargo carrying capacity of 710 pounds.  That is based on "average" weights and accessories can further reduce that.  I have no hint what accessories are not included but that could also be reduced by the weight of an A/C, awnings, extra battery, solar panels, etc.  Your CCC needs to also cover food, cooking gear, clothing, bedding, tools, chairs, BBQ grill,  a generator (if you have one) and all the miscellaneous stuff you are likely to bring.  For most of us the total would be well over the 710 capacity not counting extras such as bicycles and the bicycle racks to carry them.  Personally I would want at least twice that cargo carrying capacity even for a small trailer.

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We once bought an RV that turned out to have a capacity of ~800 pounds for two people. I traded my jeans for cotton slacks, our Corelle dishes for plastic ones, our canned food for freeze-dried ones, etc. It was not fun. We traded in that rig after only four months for other reasons but that limited capacity was a bear. We literally weighed everything in deciding what to take and what not to take. 

Linda Sand

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I don't know anything about that RV brand, BUT....

I would not trust the quality or reliability of an RV that was built so cheaply that it could barely carry its own weight.  On top of that is the safety issue.  The CCC is surely limited by one or more of the following:  axle, wheels, tires.  With a cheaply built RV, they are all likely to be near the maximum even with a mostly empty RV.  Most of us who travel have seen plenty of RVs with broken axles or suspension components and even worse blow outs or other serious tire/wheel issues.  Those issues can end a trip but worse can result in wrecked RV and serious injury or death.  Personally I would recommend getting rid of that death trap and don't even consider putting your family at risk!

Those who are new to RVs often fail to appreciate the amount of weight that most of us need and want to carry.  The weight of accessories and personal items can really add up.  RV accessories often include A/C unit, extra battery, extra beds/bunks, microwave/oven, awnings, solar units, etc.  You really need to know what the manufacturer has included in their specs and what they consider to be accessories.  Then there is the weight of user accessories such as a generator, bicycles, chairs/tables, screen house, mattress upgrade, rugs, carrying racks for the chairs/bikes.  On top of that there is the weight of food.  It is easy to fill a refrigerator and pantry with hundreds of pounds of food and drinks.  Then consider all the tools, ropes, extension cords, cleaning supplies, broom, etc, etc.  Then we all need cooking gear, plates, silverware, glasses, clothing, extra boots, towels, bedding, pillows, hats, jackets, etc, etc.  There is absolutely no way all of these are going to be less than 1000#.  With all of the items I have mentioned you can readily see that it is easy to exceed 2000# over the trailers base wet weight.

Edited by JimK
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10 hours ago, JimK said:

Your trailer has a cargo carrying capacity of 710 pounds...Personally I would want at least twice that cargo carrying capacity even for a small trailer.

Most small trailers have a relatively low cargo carrying capacity as well as limited storage space. This is one reason that the larger SUV's and crew cab pickups with a cap over the bed are popular tow vehicles for families. They also provide the extra capacity to upsize the trailer later.  A full size van can also make a good tow vehicle. A quick look at the Chevy/GM showed cargo capacity of over 4,000# and max trailer weight of 10,000# for some models.

Even with a trailer that had a +3,000# cargo capacity, I carried items like the generator, generator fuel, BBQ (and propane), bicycles, table, chairs, screen house, tools, fishing gear, etc. in the bed of the pickup under a cap. A small boat rode on the roof racks on the cap. Plenty of room and cargo capacity to spare.  Total cargo capacity of the trailer and truck was over 6,000#. 

Edited by trailertraveler
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1 hour ago, trailertraveler said:

Most small trailers have a relatively low cargo carrying capacity as well as limited storage space. ........

Even with a trailer that had a +3,000# cargo capacity, I carried items like the generator, generator fuel, BBQ (and propane), bicycles, table, chairs, screen house, tools, fishing gear, etc. in the bed of the pickup under a cap. A small boat rode on the roof racks on the cap. Plenty of room and cargo capacity to spare.  Total cargo capacity of the trailer and truck was over 6,000#. 

You appear to be comparing a trailer with a 3000# capacity with the OP's trailer with a 700# capacity.  That is a world of difference.  Seven hundred pounds will barely cover minimal food, supplies, bedding, and gear for a weekender trip, leaving the bicycles, BBQ grill, chairs and the rest at home.

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37 minutes ago, JimK said:

You appear to be comparing a trailer with a 3000# capacity with the OP's trailer with a 700# capacity.  That is a world of difference.  Seven hundred pounds will barely cover minimal food, supplies, bedding, and gear for a weekender trip, leaving the bicycles, BBQ grill, chairs and the rest at home.

I was not trying to compare them at all. I was trying to make the point that everything one takes camping does not have to fit in the trailer.

1 hour ago, trailertraveler said:

I carried items like the generator, generator fuel, BBQ (and propane), bicycles, table, chairs, screen house, tools, fishing gear, etc. in the bed of the pickup under a cap. A small boat rode on the roof racks on the cap.

Some things like fuel for a generator are in my thinking much safer to carry in the bed of a truck.

1 hour ago, trailertraveler said:

 A full size van can also make a good tow vehicle. A quick look at the Chevy/GM showed cargo capacity of over 4,000#

This vehicle would provide the OP lots of cargo capacity both in space and weight even with 5 people on board when the capacity of the trailer and the tow vehicle are combined.

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6 hours ago, JimK said:

I would not trust the quality or reliability of an RV that was built so cheaply that it could barely carry its own weight. 

The RV we had a problem with was not built cheaply. That was actually the problem. It was built using so much beautiful real wood that the wood itself used up much of the van's carrying capacity.

Linda

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2 hours ago, sandsys said:

The RV we had a problem with was not built cheaply. That was actually the problem. It was built using so much beautiful real wood that the wood itself used up much of the van's carrying capacity.

Linda

OK, yours was built well but the engineering was poor.  As you found out a few hundred pounds of cargo capacity doesn't cut it for all the food, bedding, cooking gear and stuff needed for comfortable RV travel.  Anyway it appears to be another pointless discussion.  The OP has not returned and surely does not want to hear the details.

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1 hour ago, JimK said:

it appears to be another pointless discussion.  The OP has not returned and surely does not want to hear the details.

The OP is not retired and has an active family. He likely can't get on here several times a day as some of us do. He may well be back next weekend when he has some time to do so.

Linda

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I am here, I am a she. I work a lot of hours and have 3 kids.  I already purchased this camper, so unfortunately I am going to have to make it work. The a/c and microwave are included in the weight. My husband and I selected a lightweight camper hoping it would work with our traverse. We didn’t want a large camper as we were unable to store anything bigger than what we purchased. 

I appreciate everyone’s input. Fortunately for us most of our gear is lightweight, as we were backpackers before we became RV people. I will not be bringing a generator, so that can be removed from the equation. 
 

I was really hoping for advice on an suv that would be able to handle the “small” trailer, bikes, 5 people and their gear. 
 

The calculator that Ray, IN offered will be a great help. I appreciate all of the advice. Thanks everyone!

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On 3/14/2021 at 9:08 AM, Chalkie said:

Welcome to the forums! That is a very subjective question and one I am sure will get you several different answers. Your family size definitively warrants a larger vehicle as the weight of passengers gets added to the "cargo" capacity of the vehicle. If you are a Chevy person I would suggest looking at a Tahoe or Suburban.  There are other large SUVs out there, of course. 

Thanks! I have been researching the Tahoe and Subrban.

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On 3/14/2021 at 12:30 PM, Kirk W said:

Another welcome to the Escapee forums!

I agree with what Gary has just responded. The 5000# tow rating of the Traverse is the absolute maximum that can be safely towed, assuming that you are not exceeding any of the other weight limits. Towing at the maximum capacity for any vehicle is not the ideal and is usually tiring to drive with any tow vehicle. Most experienced RV owners will recommend that you stay below 80% of the vehicle's maximum tow rating for comfortable travels. 

Another factor is the fact that single axle trailers have more tendency to rock fore & aft, that also impacts driver comfort and handling. The same is true for the length of the travel trailer as compared to the tow vehicle. There are others on these forums who are more expert than I on such issues so hopefully they will respond soon. In general, the bigger and heavier the tow vehicle is, the less stressful towing is.

Thank you

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On 3/15/2021 at 11:46 AM, noteven said:

Welcome - here’s the deal -

Towing anything with a boxy shape requires power (hp) to overcome the aero drag resistance of the box. Today’s vehicles have high gearing so the engine turns at low rpm making just enough power to cruise at best fuel economy.

For an engine to develop enough power, it must have enough torque at the desired rpm.  
Rated max HP is not meaningful in day to day towing except when the peddle is on the rug.

You want to look at torque characteristics. The lower the rpm max torque is available the better the engine will feel when towing day to day.
 

To develop high enough torque at low rpm an engine needs to have more displacement, high compression (like a diesel) or supercharging (or turbocharging) to mimic high compression - or a combination of these characteristics. 
A turbocharged 2.3 or 2.7 engine might be satisfactory and give good economy not towing. 

 

Great info! You really know your stuff. Adding this to my list of things to look for in the next vehicle.

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On 3/15/2021 at 6:17 PM, Randyretired said:

I agree with what has been posted and would add that a turbo charged engine will perform better at higher altitudes as found here in Colorado than a naturally aspirated engine.  Be sure the trailer brakes are good and properly adjusted.

Thank you! Brand new tires and brakes. Will make sure the vehicle we get is well equipped as well.

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On 3/15/2021 at 9:36 PM, JimK said:

Sadly I have even more bad news for you.  Your trailer has a cargo carrying capacity of 710 pounds.  That is based on "average" weights and accessories can further reduce that.  I have no hint what accessories are not included but that could also be reduced by the weight of an A/C, awnings, extra battery, solar panels, etc.  Your CCC needs to also cover food, cooking gear, clothing, bedding, tools, chairs, BBQ grill,  a generator (if you have one) and all the miscellaneous stuff you are likely to bring.  For most of us the total would be well over the 710 capacity not counting extras such as bicycles and the bicycle racks to carry them.  Personally I would want at least twice that cargo carrying capacity even for a small trailer.

Hi Jim, you are breaking my heart. I guess we usually do things minimalistic. I appreciate all of your advice. I will have to take special care when loading this up, to make sure weight is within limit to keep my family safe. Thinking the suburban may be the way to go, so I can load more In the vehicle than In The actual camper. Taking into consideration the max weight for both vehicle and camper. I just can’t store anything bigger than a hybrid model at this time.

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23 hours ago, sandsys said:

We once bought an RV that turned out to have a capacity of ~800 pounds for two people. I traded my jeans for cotton slacks, our Corelle dishes for plastic ones, our canned food for freeze-dried ones, etc. It was not fun. We traded in that rig after only four months for other reasons but that limited capacity was a bear. We literally weighed everything in deciding what to take and what not to take. 

Linda Sand

Hi Linda, great advise. I guess we will give it a try, as I already purchased it. I too will have to weight everything I put in the camper.

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