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New to Travel trailers

Hi Everyone,

New here and new to travel trailers in general. Ive always tent camped - backcountry or car camping but alway in a tent.

Me and my husband prefer to camp in shoulder seasons up here is Canada, when bugs arent as bad but frequently nights dip below freezing. We have started to look into travel trailers as a means to make camping more accessible with our young kids. Both kids are under three and refuse to stay in their sleeping bags so im constantly waking and recovering them.

Looking at trailer we run into the same problem over and over - way to much extra stuff and not enough sleeping room. My husband is well over 6ft and while only toddlers now but we want something to last us many years. Husband hit 6ft at 12yrs so we still want to fit our kids into teenage years. Im appealing to those with year of experience - which brands are best to look at for quality construction but with out bells and whistles?

Wants : furnace, sleeps 4 adults plus a large dog - plus if inside table or outdoor kitchen

What features do you look for when buying a trailer? Materials, type of construction ect

Is there brands that offer shell campers?

Besides vehicle towing weight is there any restrictions youve found common having to deal with? Ex certain campground restrict to certain size trailers? I remember camping a few years ago and the campground had a covered bridge that had to be driven over to acess certain sites so there was a height and length restriction on trailers.

Is there any features you though were too ‘extra’ starting out but love the convenience of now?

Thanks to everyone that offers wisdom to this newbie.

Explorer II
Explorer II
I converted a 32 foot cargo trailer into one with living quarters . We used it to haul our jeep out into the desert. The upside is you have a huge living space (they call it a garage in toy hauler terms) that we used for dinners for the group and in inclement weather. With kids, I would look into toy haulers because of that feature. I like smooth sided trailer, I have a work and play toy hauler now, it is a cargo trailer that has living quarters added to it. It is strong but heavy. My truck pulls it without an issue. I don't care for the aluminum sided trailers. personal preference.
As was mentioned, first off figure out if and what your tow vehicle can handle. What is your tow vehicle that you plan on using.

ScottG wrote:
I suggest you go to a big RV show so you can look at lots of options all at once.

This was the best advice we heard from a dealer. Go to every lot around you and check them all out. If you come across anything you like ask the dealer to step out while you think about it. Go through all the motions like you were camping. Lie in the beds, sit at the table, sit on the toilet, step in the shower etc. Take your time, 1/2 hr or more.
I wanted more windows, a view. Wife wanted a working kitchen. We found it.

"Is there brands that offer shell campers? "

What do you mean by "shell camper"? My first thought about "shell" would be a truck camper or slide in camper on a pickup truck, but that doesn't match what you are looking for.
2021 F150 2.7
2004 21' Forest River Surveyor

Sounds like your looking for a storage type of trailer with a furnace. I've seen several in campgrounds by DIY types. Of course that might be illegal in Canada.
17 DRV MS 36rssb3
17 F350 King Ranch CC DRW 4x4 6.7 4:10 B&W hitch
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu

Nomad III
Nomad III
What's your tow vehicle and how big do you want to go with the trailer?

Some thoughts:
- Learn what all the ratings mean (towing, axle and payload) and be skeptical. Dealers will tell you it's fine but if it's a white knuckle drive, it won't be a fun...pretty soon you will hate it.
- To fit 4 adults comfortably you are looking at a minimum 25ft and can easily get up around 30ft or larger. I don't care what the specs say, you will be happier with a 3/4 ton truck for a rig that big. They cost about the same as a 1/2 ton. If you really like back country camping, big is harder to safely get into backwoods sites.
- Most of the time, it's not tow rating that limits what you can tow but payload. Everything you put in the truck including passengers and bolt on gear (like running boards) counts against payload. Also the hitch weight (should be 12-15% of the fully loaded, NOT EMPTY, trailer weight counts against payload (use 15% of GVWR if unsure as a good starting point). A lot of 1/2 ton trucks have pitiful payload (1000lb payload is not uncommon and 4 adults can easily add up to 800lb). Ignore the payloads you find on the web. There is a yellow sticker on the driver door jamb that lists the actual payload or better yet, swing by a CAT scale and weigh the truck to find out how much payload you have left.
- If you are willing to make some compromises there are smaller options that could work. There are some 20ft bunkhouse models that could work while the kids are small and would be very suitable for a 1/2ton pickup. Then as they get older, you could put a cap on the truck and they could sleep in the back of the truck when they outgrow the bunks. Smaller lets you get into more out of the way sites.
- They all come with a furnace and presumably the dog would be happy sleeping on the floor.

Take your time, learn and if in doubt go for the more capable truck.
Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

I suggest you go to a big RV show so you can look at lots of options all at once.

Seeing you tend to camp in colder weather I hear Arctic Fox is a very good brand of camper for that. They have a good size variety to choose from also. Unless you are willing to adjust your tow vehicle for your choice in camper then start with understanding what your current vehicle can handle. Don't push the limits of it. If it says it can tow XX lbs. then reduce that number by 20% or more. Dry weight of the trailer is meaningless really too. It's only the starting point of what will soon be a many hundred pounds more weight when loaded with all things needed for camping. Having a tow vehicle that can tow your rig safely is priority and be able to tow without damaging your vehicle. You ask a lot with this question. Also, don't get too emotionally attached with a camper in the purchasing stage. Be willing to walk away if the deal isn't to your liking. Camper salesmen tend to be a bit high pressure.

Before you start looking you need to know exactly what your tow vehicle is capable of towing. Dealers will lie to you the minute you set foot on their lot. You must be the one with the info and answers. Do your homework and you will figure out what you need and want. Best of luck. Others will provide more info for you. Post what your tow vehicle is as a starter.
You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality – Ayn Rand