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Old 09-28-2016, 08:19 PM   #1
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Help with tow vehicle and TT selection

I'm new here, with no travel trailer experience. I'm considering a travel trailer purchase and just want to make sure I have my towing calculations correct.

First, here's what I've got for a tow vehicle:
2006 GMC Yukon XL 1500 with 5.3l V8 and 3:42 gears, with tow package. The vehicle weight is ~5,269lbs, max trailer weight is 7,500lbs, GVWR is 7,000lb, GCWR is 13,000lbs. With a WD setup, it can handle up to 1,000lb tongue weight.

I'm looking at 2 possible trailers. The first is the Coleman 17FQ, which lists a dry weight of 3,296lbs, hitch weight of 453lbs, carrying capacity of 645lbs. I don't think I'd have much issue pulling this trailer with my family and some gear in the truck.

The second trailer is the Coleman 274BH, which lists a dry weight of 4,630lbs, hitch weight of 602lbs, and cargo capacity of 2,970. When I try to run the numbers, which do confuse me, it seems I 'could' handle this trailer, but may not have much margin for error when packing the truck.

Obviously, a WD hitch would be in order, and probably airbags. I just don't want to put myself, or family, in a dangerous position. Oh, I'm from Louisiana, and probably won't be headed for the hills anytime soon. So, it will likely be flat land I'll be traveling.

Thanks much
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Old 09-28-2016, 08:27 PM   #2
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Welcome!

Glad you came by. But I should warn you that it is one of the more polarizing questions. There will not be a consensus.

Fortunately though, around here, even the debate stays civil.
Can you do everyone a favor and open your drivers side door and take a look and see what the Yellow Number is?
Cuz no matter what any of us say, THAT number is likely to be the first boundary you hit when talking about towing from a bumper.

Or put another way, that limit comes into play much BEFORE the towing capacity rating does. Your motor\truck can likely pull more weight down the road than the truck itself can safely accommodate. Thus, the yellow number is what counts most. (Cargo Capacity number is what I am talking about)

Cheers
Sit back and enjoy. Lots of great folks here with real experience and sincere desire to help you out.
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Old 09-28-2016, 08:42 PM   #3
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Here is the what I called the Yellow Number on my F150:

(The 1533 lbs is what most limits what RV I can safely (comfortably) attach to my hitch. (WD or not) My "towing capacity" has a lot of headroom left after I hit this capacity\limit first.

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Old 09-28-2016, 08:53 PM   #4
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Well, it doesn't really state it the way yours does. If I'm understanding correctly, my curb weight is 5,269lbs, and my GVWR is 7,000lbs. So, my 'yellow number' would be 1,731lbs, right? From that, I would subtract hitch weight, passengers, gear, fuel, etc. to see what my 'overhead' is. At least i 'think' that's how it works, right?
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Old 09-28-2016, 10:04 PM   #5
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You got it
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Old 09-28-2016, 10:19 PM   #6
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1731 is not a bad starting point for that SUV.

It does get consumed FAST with honest calculations. But that is as good or better than most 1/2 ton trucks out there.

By the way, when I looked closely at the candidates (TT's) you listed, you already are "keeping it real". So that puts you ahead of a lot of folks that ask this same question.

Good luck! And we look forward to what you decide on.
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Old 09-28-2016, 11:48 PM   #7
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Why the huge jump in choices? A 28ft camper is worlds away from a 20 footer.
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Old 09-29-2016, 02:19 AM   #8
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I need something for my family of 5. They both sleep 5. There aren't a whole lot of light options that sleep more than 4.
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Old 09-29-2016, 04:23 AM   #9
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Ahhh. Family camping. Emphasis on lots of mattresses.

Don't know how old the kids are, but 25 years ago we did 30 days in a Volkswagen Vanagon and then another 30 in a little popup with 3 little ones. 2,4,and 6

Kids don't see camping quite like we do. They'll think whatever ya do is cool.

Regardless, they are cherished memories. Bet you get the same result no matter what you tow.
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Old 09-29-2016, 05:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfridge76 View Post
I need something for my family of 5. They both sleep 5. There aren't a whole lot of light options that sleep more than 4.
I hate to be a spoil sport, depending on how old and big your kids are, I can see you in in trouble down the road when the next growth spurt happens.

After you get the kids and dog into the truck, account for anybody over 150#, if you already have teenagers, them puppies seem to only come in two sizes. Scrawny little runts like I used to be and the giants that eat you out if house and home. Lucky for me I had the runts, but now when my son and I see each other, it's a Sumo Wrestling match to give him a hug.

Because I could, I just decided, bigger has always worked well for my in the past and it will work on.

I don't know your candidate trailers, but are any of them hybrids and is that even something you would look at.
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Old 09-29-2016, 06:22 AM   #11
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When our kids were little, we had a Burro (fiberglass eggshell) camper. They did fine on the 15" bunk beds for a while. Then they got older. One solution they loved was the outdoor pup tent. First our son, the oldest, then later our daughter, with friends. On our site, but in a tent of their own. That's a large part of what makes them independent and happy. Just offering another possibility!
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Old 09-29-2016, 12:23 PM   #12
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When the kids were younger, we could all fit into our older trailer (Layton 310 - no slides - had it for 12 years). But as they grew up, it started getting cramped walking around. Consequently we upgraded our Tow Vehicle before we upgraded our TT.
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Old 09-29-2016, 02:21 PM   #13
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Well, here's the situation... My wife's been asking for a camper for the last couple of years. My children are 11, 7, and 4. Anyway, I'm having to head back down to Louisiana for 7-8 months, for work, before the rest of the family can join me. Due to the recent flooding in the area, my housing options are limited. I have a place to park a camper for a while, so I'm exploring that route. I think the Coleman 17FQ would be adequate. It has a queen bed, a convertible dinette, and bunks. However, for not too terribly much more is the 274BH. I like the idea of having the larger ice box, stove, and sink in the bathroom, since I'd be staying in it for a while. The biggest deciding factor may be the size\weight difference. If the larger model isn't a good fit for the Yukon, I'll sucj it up with the smaller one. We looked at a really nice Forest River\Grey Wolf, with a slide out and were told 'it was made for the 1/2 ton market'. I spoke to my cousin, who had that same model. He had to trade in his F150 for a Chevy 2500 with the 6.0L, just to tow that camper. I don't want to put myself in that position.

We plan to go browsing tomorrow @ the local Camping World in Omaha. Since I'm over 1,000 miles from Louisiana, we're going to look at models that are also at the LA Camping World locations. Shop up here, purchase down there. No point in taking it on cross country trek out of the gate.

Thanks for all the input.
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Old 09-29-2016, 04:04 PM   #14
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I see no reason why you couldn't pull the bigger camper if you watch your numbers. There's not much chance your're going to load over 2900lbs of stuff in it. For 2 of us, we have right at 500lbs in the camper. You're going to have to watch the suv payload, it's gonna be close to max.
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Old 09-29-2016, 05:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfridge76 View Post
We looked at a really nice Forest River\Grey Wolf, with a slide out and were told 'it was made for the 1/2 ton market'. I spoke to my cousin, who had that same model. He had to trade in his F150 for a Chevy 2500 with the 6.0L, just to tow that camper. I don't want to put myself in that position.
That's the first lie or half truth, yes a Half-ton Towable, emphasis on Towable. The RV industry has no interest other than manufacturing a camper that can be towed by a half-ton.
They don't care that the trucks load capacity is eaten up by the camper.

The next lie or half true comes from the truck manufacturers, who imply either from the salesmans lips, or the way they advertise, that their truck will tow almost anything. Reminds me of a VW commercial when they launched the Touareg. The commercial showed the new Touareg towing an Airstream that was beyond the Touaregs ability. VW got called out when an owner of that model Airstream could not possibily be towed by a Touareg.

When my wife decided she wanted more room, my first and only requirement was I have X pounds of cargo capacity in the 8' box for my stuff. I know I'm the odd man out in this debate and everything I've said is my opinio, based on starting where you are now, because I lived it.

I think you are taking a very realistic view, given the age and size of your family. I hope you find a camper that will serve you needs now and in the future. We are hoping for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Like Snake said "precious memories."
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Old 09-29-2016, 07:29 PM   #16
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I gotta admit when you add in the semi-permanent full-timing aspect, it becomes far less about bed space and a little more about creature comforts.

That is exactly the criteria I used when I was looking.
In fact, I placed HEAVY importance to the bathroom.
After all, it will be my ONLY bathroom day in and day out.

So I completely understand the allure of the bigger TT.

Alas, every RV in the world is a compromise. No matter how much wonderful advice you get here, you WILL be compromising.

Great thread so far.
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Old 09-29-2016, 07:53 PM   #17
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pushing the limit

Towing with a half-ton for those big "ultra-lites" can be a challenge when looking at loading.

Taking your wife to a camper show for fun can also be expensive...

My Example. I have a 2016 Ram 1500 4x4. My list cargo limit is #1520lbs. Towed limit is #10000lbs. We just purchased a Kodiak 291RESL "Ultralite" that is around #6570lbs lite with a dry tongue weight of #839 lbs.

If you subtract the #839 tongue (unloaded) from the max payload of truck #1520 that leaves you a cargo weight of #681 lbs.

Me, wife, and two small dogs is about #400. Add 26 gallons of fuel at 7#/gallon and we are at #520 lbs.

WDH is #60.

That leaves us #81 lbs of cargo. What ever you load in the TT in front of TT wheels is adding about 1/2 that weight to your tongue weight (approx.)

So battery...say #75 lbs
Two gas tanks...#75 lbs

Right there I am at maximum load...and that is with nothing in bed of truck. and nothing else in trailer. Now, we do not travel heavy and I would guess that we never carry more than #500lbs of "stuff" in the trailer. We travel with empty water tanks.

So the question is am I legal and safe....

Legal:
Depending on circumstances if I ran across a A$$hole trooper he might insist I be weighed...rare this would happen...UNLESS I hit something or someone because I could not stop. Then there will be a ticket, weighing etc. IF you are over weight do you think the Insurance company is going to pay??? Again, lots of circumstances apply on above. Something to think about

Safety:

I am probably running at 500# above max payload weight limit when I am traveling. Still below max trailer weight though. I run a WDH, Never drive above 60mph on open interstate and usually 50mph or less on secondary roads. I have no sway, no sag in rear end, and never had trouble stopping with my previous TT that was #1000lbs less. Truck manufactures over design to prevent failures at load ratings. I am no designer but lets estimate a 10-20% over design. Therefore I think that as long as I am alert and not stupid both my wife and I as well as those on road with us are safe. IF I had known that when we had went to that camper show that the wife would find a bigger TT she wanted I would have bought a 3/4 ton truck, but for now will use the 1/2 ton and doubt I will have problem.
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Old 09-30-2016, 01:33 AM   #18
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Jeff, welcome to the forum.

I'm glad that we have a real life example. That's exactly why I won't play their silly numbers game.

You have pointed out the downside and that's what most people don't look at.

Couple of points on your insurance and safety, as they would apply in BC.

INSURANCE

We must buy our liability insurance from the goverment owned (called a crown corporation) insurance company. We can purchase our colision and comprehensive insurance from a third party. Our government insurance company is famous for trying to assign blame to both parties, that way each of you have hit against your one "free" accident. Get in another at fault accident before the first one works it's way off the record, you'll get a rather unpleasant surprise come renewal time. If your from out of province towing your rig, get into an accident your fault or not, you can expect to have a complete safety inspection done. Our insurance company is quite happy to deny claims based on vehicle condition and load.

SAFETY

Our commercial vehicle safety inspectors are not shy to pull you off the road, if your vehicle even looks like it's not loaded correctly. Once they get you pulled over, you can expect to be there for a couple of hours and after the process you will get a handful of violation tickets, one for each defect on your TV and camper.

Some poor schmuck, towing on of those equipement trailers. I bet he regrets the day he decided to improperly load a crate on it. He made it too easy for the CVIS guys to pull him over. Rather than load the crate forward to the axel or further, he chose to load it on the top of the ramp. DW and I arrive at the Costco parking lot, the CVSI guy was just finishing up on the trailer and was moving is creeper and tools to the back of the truck. About an hour and a half later we are leaving Costco, the CVSI guy is standing at the drivers door with the driver, from the way the ticket book was being held, I suspect the driver got at least 3 violation tickets.

Another reason I don't play the numbers game.
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