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Author Topic: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer  (Read 987 times)

elevine17

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Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« on: November 13, 2017, 03:49:03 PM »
Hey All,

I am starting to think about getting into the RV/Travel trailer game but am starting to realize my needs/wants don't seem to be in line with the majority of RV customers. I am looking for some feedback on where to start looking or if my wants are feasible etc.

Some background: I live in Utah and am looking for something that I can use in the Winter and Summer. The majority of my camping will be boondocking with about 4-5 days being the max stay time but in reality, 2 nights will be the norm.

I would like a trailer that I can pull bumper pull behind a 3/4-ton or 1-ton truck that will have a sled deck on it. For those who are not familiar, picture a platform on top of a truck bed with room for 2 snowmobiles.

Since I will be boondocking at snowmobile trailheads, I think a fiberglass trailer will be my best option for insulation reasons. Is this a reasonable thought or based on false premises?

A hot shower is a must. I am a bit more flexible with toilets but figure the Hot Shower aspect will guide my toilet decision. I am worried about my Fresh, Grey and Black water freezing over night. Are there reliable tank heaters out there?

I would like this trailer to be able to travel off-road. Nothing too extreme as my truck will not be modified further than an off-road package. Do I need to upgrade the suspension/axles for that? I have been looking at http://timbren.com/axle-less/ which would seem to meet my needs - especially if I double up the burliest axles.

I would like to run the trailer on full battery power. Something like a Tesla Powerwall seems to be more than sufficient to power a trailer for a couple of days. The issues are that you cannot lie the wall flat and that batteries do not work well in cold temperatures. Are there any solutions that are RV-oriented? It would be great to have the batteries at the bottom of the trailer for its center of gravity. Finally, I saw that the new Earth Roamer (the $1.5m RV on the Ford F-550 platform) has something on board that will monitor the battery and fire the truck up if the battery gets low so that the generator can charge the batteries. Is this an off-the-shelf type of tool/appliance? I haven't been able to find anything like it but figure I am using the wrong search terms.

So heres the question: Am I better off finding a well-used trailer and starting from scratch? Are there trailer companies that sell just shells? Or is there something on the market that I have not yet discovered that would fit my needs?


Sorry for asking these all at once but I figured I would just create one post rather than a post for each area of concern. Thanks all for your help in advance
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 04:00:06 PM by elevine17 »

RedandSilver

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2017, 05:38:45 PM »
I can tell you that Winter and RVing don't mix well.

There is little room for insulation in the walls and any windows don't insulate well either.
If it gets really cold (much below 40°) you have to use a furnace and that runs on propane and uses
a fair amount quickly and is not cheap.

Can it be done - yes but it won't be easy or cheap to do and your results may not be as good as you would like.
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp
West MI Summer   Central FL Winter

muskoka guy

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  • 2000 Coachmen Santara 370 isb cummins diesel
Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2017, 05:40:27 PM »
How deep is your wallet.

SeilerBird

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2017, 05:42:59 PM »
You want to triple tow an all electric RV in winter off road? Keep us posted, this should be interesting if not impossible.
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Larry N.

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2017, 08:46:41 PM »
Quote
A hot shower is a must. I am a bit more flexible with toilets but figure the Hot Shower aspect will guide my toilet decision. I am worried about my Fresh, Grey and Black water freezing over night. Are there reliable tank heaters out there?

Those heaters alone will drain your battery quickly, when you're not plugged in. You'll need a generator to run (possibly most of the night). With the right rig, the water bay and/or tanks are likely to be heated. As far as hot showers, most TTs (travel trailers) have rather limited water supply and holding tanks, but for a day or two it shouldn't be too much problem. But with the cold, propane (to run the water heater and furnace) will be used up fairly quickly, so you'll need to be very much aware of the propane capacity. As Red and Silver says, RVs don't do well in the cold, as a rule.

 
Quote
Finally, I saw that the new Earth Roamer (the $1.5m RV on the Ford F-550 platform) has something on board that will monitor the battery and fire the truck up if the battery gets low so that the generator can charge the batteries. Is this an off-the-shelf type of tool/appliance? I haven't been able to find anything like it but figure I am using the wrong search terms.

Generator autostart is a feature included on many motorhomes, but I don't know if it's available for anything in a travel trailer, especially since few of them have generators -- most folks with a TT have a portable generator (Honda 2000 or 3000, etc.) which, so far as I know, cannot be set up for autostart, though perhaps there is something I'm not aware of to do that.

Quote
Since I will be boondocking at snowmobile trailheads, I think a fiberglass trailer will be my best option for insulation reasons.

I'd hate to make that general a statement, though a large percentage of TTs are fiberglass. You'll want an enclosed belly with what some makers call an arctic package. Most of the trailheads I've seen are rather limited in space, and you might be hogging the whole space, even if overnight (especially camping) is allowed at all.

Quote
I would like this trailer to be able to travel off-road. Nothing too extreme as my truck will not be modified further than an off-road package.
Few trailers do well at off road, though some will tolerate dirt/gravel if they're not too rough -- some will shake apart quickly if it gets too rough.

You're being very ambitious, and it won't be easy.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL, Bounder, Beaver
  de N8GGG

tanglemoose

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2017, 11:48:07 PM »
Hey, we do lots of camping when temps to wake up are in the mid 20s... we bought a western edition Keystone cougar, they are made in Oregon. We have the 21rbswe, which has the polar package. More insulation, heated under belly, etc. Plus we have 60 gallon fresh water for boondocking.  Pull our rv with our Toyota tundra easily over all our mountain passes.  Plus the rv has high clearance for off road.

We do have generator for backup. However we have a Go power solar, 150 watt solar panel and 2 six volt batteries. We also put 600 watt inverter on. I can charge my laptop. Rv has usb charging station for all of our usb devices, cameras, phones. Dog collar.

Love our cougar, our second one.  Bought one used. But when they did lots of changes on 2017, king bed, step lights, lighter colors interior, etc. Etc. We bought a new one... check out their Polar features!
Donna and Mark
and our Golden Lexie
New 2017 TT Keystone Cougar  Same model... but NEW Features!
2015 Keystone Cougar 1/2 Ton Series, 21rbswe, 26'
2013 Toyota Tundra
Living in Cold Montana Country.....

VallAndMo

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  • Vall and Mo, a married couple getting ready for FT
Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 01:47:31 AM »
Hi Elevine17,

Congratulations on your plans, they are certainly audacious! And I don't think this is a problem at all... as the French would say, "L'audace , toujours l'audace".  :)

I will try to help with what little knowledge I have:

1) regarding trailers, have a look at the Northwoods. They are famous for  their cold-weather performance, specially their Arctic Fox and Snow River lines: http://northwoodmfg.com/travel-trailers/ and also, regarding your off-roading intentions, they actually say they build them on an "Off-Road Chassis", whatever that means. In fact I've just had a look and some models can be had with built-in generators and thermal pane windows, which could be a lot of help on your case.

2) about batteries, AFAIK the Teslas aren't very appropriate for RV use; I'd look for ones made specifically for that. LiFePO4 batteries, again AFAIK, don't have a problem with being "discharged* under cold temps: it's being *recharged* in those conditions that would do them in (and in fact would be barred by a good BMS). So if you have a large enough bank of those batteries and charge them at reasonable temps before leaving for your snow camp, you could be alright. I would consider calling the folks at BattleBorn Batteries and talking with them about your plans; one blogger I follow has just installed four of them and is liking them a lot (albeit he tries to follow the weather and definitely avoids the kind of camping you're looking for).

Hope that helps.

Good luck, and please keep us posted!

Cheers,
--
   Vall.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 01:50:48 AM by VallAndMo »

Memtb

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 08:14:15 AM »
    elevine17,  Most of the info you got, was based upon the average constructed 5th wheel. The most “factual” info received was that you “will” use lots of propane. We winter camp, and are boondocking right now, while elk hunting. Sitting on top of the mountain using wife’s smart phone. We have, and will likely again camp down to a minus 20 or so! We’re into our third week now. We spent one week with a low of 2 F, and only had a couple of days above 30 F. We were using approximately 17 pounds of propane per day in our 39 footer. We kept it cool (around 60F) inside, to save on batteries (furnace use), propane, and to be better acclimated to the outside.
 
    If I understand correctly, you want a 5th wheel and tow a second trailer. Your length restrictions in Utah, will make it difficult to get a 5er short enough to tow a second trailer and have good “wintering” capabilities. Teton Homes (now out of business) built some (relatively) lightweight units that handled cold pretty good. The lighter models were the Experiance and the Expedition, though the shortest were around 33 feet. They did build a really nice 30 footer in the late ‘90’, But are very hard to find. Also, even the lighter units would put a 3/4 ton at or above your “legal” tow limits.

   PM us and we can try to offer some advice. We’ve got several days left hunting, so,it may be a little while before we respond to PM.
Todd and Marianne
Home Base: Winchester, Wy.
Miniature Schnauzers - Sundai, Nellie and Maggie Mae
2007 Dodge Ram 3500,  6.7 Ram 6 speed manual, 4x4
2004 Teton Grand Freedom
2007 Bigfoot Class C

jdonhowe

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 09:19:01 AM »
You might consider getting a truck camper, and towing the snowmobiles. That setup would be easier for off road conditions, and might be easier to insulate.
John
2018 Safari Condo Alto 1723
2012 Toyota Venza

Memtb

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 03:17:51 PM »
You might consider getting a truck camper, and towing the snowmobiles. That setup would be easier for off road conditions, and might be easier to insulate.


  This may be your “best” option! Take a look at Bigfoot or Artic Fox. The Bigfoot (manufactured in Canada), has pretty impressive “wintering” capabilities!
Todd and Marianne
Home Base: Winchester, Wy.
Miniature Schnauzers - Sundai, Nellie and Maggie Mae
2007 Dodge Ram 3500,  6.7 Ram 6 speed manual, 4x4
2004 Teton Grand Freedom
2007 Bigfoot Class C

FunSteak

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2017, 12:18:55 PM »
While probably not the best winter camping choice, has anyone had a look at the Conqueror off road trailers?  Pretty sweet.

http://conqueror4x4usa.com/

https://youtu.be/eqE9ZxLB7RU
JP & Karen
2017 Minnie Winnie 26a

elevine17

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2017, 11:33:29 PM »
Thanks for the replies everybody.

I didn't realize that a track camper was easier to insulate than average travel trailer. The reason I was interested in a travel trailer was so I could detach and run a quick errand without having to secure everything for travel. But, it sounds like the cons outweigh the pros there. It also seems like I'll have to have an alternative fuel source but I'll have to look into LiFePO4 as due diligence.

I've mainly looked into bigfoot trailers as an acquaintance had used it in similar situations. He just sold it so perhaps I'll see what his next steps are.

All overall, it sounds like purchasing an rv and making small changes would be a more economical route than finding a shell or renovating an old one.

I definitely appreciate seeing companies like Earth Roamer join the space and show what is possible as it can act as a guide when making decisions

Old_Crow

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Re: Winter / Off-Road Travel Trailer
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2017, 05:59:17 AM »
If a slide-in camper is properly equipped, it doesn't take very long to drop it out of the back of the truck at a campsite.  Easily 50% of the truck campers that came to the campground where I hosted last year unloaded the camper and used the bare truck to drive around.
Wally Crow
Retired 30 year ASE Master Auto Tech
Y2K Bounder 36S F53
'03 Jeep Wrangler Sahara