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Author Topic: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?  (Read 5556 times)

robdrew7

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Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« on: November 14, 2011, 12:19:36 PM »
Shopping for our first travel trailer.  There are SO MANY brands, and SO LITTLE information about how any given trailer is constructed.  My bride & I have found a couple floor plans we like, and everyone seems to make them. So I'd like to select based on build quality.  We're aiming at something 23-28 feet for the two of us.  I understand that "heavier" probably means better built, and that "more expensive" may be a reliable gauge for better quality.  Also "length of warranty" implies some confidence on the part of the builder.

So then I find there are "lites" and "ultra-lites".  A few questions:

1) Can I dismiss these out of hand, or are some actually more solidly built by using new, light-weight materials and technologies?   

2) Is a "light" model of a higher quality brand likely to be better built than a heavier model of an "entry level" brand?




Rob & Elaine
Ford F-150  EcoBoost V6, 2wd
28' "Back Country" TT by Outdoors RV
Pleasanton, California

Alfa38User

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2011, 01:50:51 PM »
You should be looking first at your proposed tow vehicle and determining what you can handle. Do NOT let the dealers tell you "Sure, with that vehicle you can pull XXX trailer easy!!!" Doing this will eliminate many candidates in the sizes you are proposing.

Do your homework first, then shop. I would not assume anything about a trailers construction or quality from those descriptions. A manufacturers reputation is probably a better guide but even the good ones can have a 'bad hair day'.

Use only the official DOT mandated stickers for GVWR etc. Remember, empty or dry weights mean absolutely nothing as NO ONE tows an empty travel trailer except to get it home from the dealer.

I think you will find most true "ultra-lites" are basically trailers with a hard roof and canvas covered slides or something similar, what we used to call hard top or soft top "tent trailers".
« Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 01:54:50 PM by Alfa38User »
Stu
Montréal, Canada 🍁
Snowbird, Naples Florida
Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver (parked!)

"Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advise!!!"

Phil Hyde

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2011, 04:07:48 PM »
Heed the caution noted by Stu and take the time to understand the mechanics of towing as it pertains to vehicle weights.  There are many articles in the forum Library section 'Towing and towables'.  Knowing the maximum weight your vehicle can tow will help you narrow down your choices.  Hopefully you are already aware of this, and I'm preaching to the choir, as it were!

A distinction I believe you will find between 'high end' and 'run of the mill' brands is quality of workmanship.  Whereas they use the same basic "lightweight" materials, your 'run of the mill' construction will have uneven edges, poorly screwed joints, missing screws, etc. 

I personally wouldn't dismiss an "ultra-lite" out of hand without looking at it and evaluating it's weights.  You may find that the ultra-lite can carry less cargo, has smaller tank capacity, etc.

Are you buying new or used?
2015 Ford F350 CC 4WD DRW
2010 Keystone Montana Mountaineer 345-DBQ

Mopar1973Man

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  • Dodge Cummins Powered / Jayco Eagle Living
Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2011, 05:44:45 PM »
Like myself I bought a used 2000 Jayco Eagle 296 FBS. I was more interrested in a solid frame that can withstand some dirt road travel. Cabinetry that was real and solid not partical board. All my furniture is solid plywood (benches, bed base, etc). Then beyond that I was looking at counter top work area in the kitchen. Then do I fit the bed(s) and bathroom.

Still very happy with my choice on the Jayco... (Thumbs Up). The dealer I dealt with was very nice and very helpful. He showed us the several different brands and models and showed the strengths and weakness. So in my mind I rather have a trailer that is a 1,000 pound more in weight but know it going to last a long time!  ;D

Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
2002 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins Turbo Diesel
2000 Jayco Eagle FBS 296
2013 BigTex 70TV Utility Trailer

robdrew7

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2011, 05:56:03 PM »
Thanks, Stu, Phil and Mopar Man.  I'll be towing with a Ford F150 w/ Ecoboost engine, 143" wb and 3.55 rear axle.  The maximum tow capacity is rated at 9,800 pounds with a WD hitch.  Conservative by nature, I would like to keep GVWR to 80% or about 7,800, so I'm looking at units with dry weight less than say  5,700 pounds, with a length between 23 and 28 feet.  Haven't decided between new or used.  I like the warranty potential of new, and the "discount" potential of used.

Mopar Man presents a good example using Jayco.  They offer very similar 28' floor plans in three of their lines:   the Jay Flight, the Jay Feather Ultra-Lite, and the Eagle Super Lite.  Dry weights are 6,120, 4,400, and 5,690 respectively.  Cargo wts are   2280 , 2400 and 1800 for the Eagle Super-Lite.  The Jay Feather Ultra Lite permits the most cargo, but as Phil suggested, has the smallest tanks.  Eagle takes the least cargo, but plenty for me, and fits my dry-weight target better than the Jay Flight.

So:  is an Eagle Super Lite equal or superior in sturdiness to a standard Jay Flight, even though it's Eagles "lite" product?   The same question works with other manufacturers lines, leaving me to wonder if "buying up" on a higher-end light model is reasonable when build-quality is the objective.

On the other hand, is the Jay Feather Ultra-Lite lighter because it uses a lot of strong, light weight space-age materials, or is it simply a more delicate unit?   

Thanks for your thoughts!  I'm enjoying working this through before Mrs and I go shopping.
Rob & Elaine
Ford F-150  EcoBoost V6, 2wd
28' "Back Country" TT by Outdoors RV
Pleasanton, California

Alfa38User

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 07:17:11 AM »
One nice aspect of looking at a large number of 'used' older units is seeing how well they have held up. Things like particle board cabinets etc tend to show up quickly due to the movement, poor attachment etc.

Remember nobody tows a "dry" trailer and the "stuff" tends to add up quickly. Small tanks are not a desirable item, they fill quickly too! Ask me about small tanks in a sailboat!!!!!

Enjoy your search!!
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 07:18:49 AM by Alfa38User »
Stu
Montréal, Canada 🍁
Snowbird, Naples Florida
Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver (parked!)

"Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advise!!!"

Mopar1973Man

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  • Dodge Cummins Powered / Jayco Eagle Living
Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 08:30:12 AM »
Like Alfa38User mention about storage tanks. My old Dodge Jamboree had 25 gallon of black anf 25 gallons of grey then 50 gallons of water. More times out of ten I remember standing in my puddle of shower water. Now with the Jayco I've got lots more room for sewage... (2) 40 gallon tanks for grey water and a 45 gallon black tank then 50 gallons of water... I know that living a normal life I can go 2 days on water and sewage.

As for propane I've got 2 30# tanks and never ran out yet even on 1 tank... (Short trips 2-3 days).

Batteries are another thing to consider on the RV. I'm use to the old radiant heat of the Dodge Jamboree which did require battery power but now with forced air furance you'll find it can consume batteries really quick. Like some have moved over to golf cart batteries (which in turn add more weight to the tongue) and others have just (2) 12V deep cycles like myself. I pack along a small 2K generator for charging the batteries just after dinner so you know the batteries will keep the furance going through the night.
Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
2002 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins Turbo Diesel
2000 Jayco Eagle FBS 296
2013 BigTex 70TV Utility Trailer

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 10:26:28 AM »
"Lite" and "ultra-lite" have become largely marketing terms with little consistency across brands or even models.  An RV manufacturer strips as little 50 or 100 pounds off a model and gives it a name with "lite" or "ultra-lite" in it and tries to convince you it is a major breakthrough in economy. Usually they start with their lightest weight model, which often means the one with the lightest duty components, so too often a "lite" model is light duty as well as light in weight. Not necessarily a good trade-off if you expect to use the rig frequently or to travel for extended periods. I wouldn't automatically disqualify a model with "lite" in its name or description, but I probably wouldn't give it any extra credits either.

The original "lite" was the Holiday Rambler Alumalite, which featured aluminum framing when others were still using wood, but now many brands and models use metal instead of wood frames.

Build quality and reliability generally improve with increased weight. One of the largest weight factors is the chassis (frame) it is built on, and heavier,  more rigid steel with more/stiffer cross members and heavier duty axles and tires is a good thing. So is solid wood cabinetry in the interior and a fiberglass roof, but all these things add weight.  Weight - and price - are rough indicators of the level of design & build quality of a rig.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Lowell

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 10:43:34 AM »
I have a 28 ft Cherokee "light" by Forrest River that we bought new 6 years ago.  We have had a very satisfactory experience with it and the only cost we have had are normal maintenance such as repacking wheel bearings and replacing tires.  There was one no charge recall on the Dometic refrigerator, but that recall affected all trailers with that model refrigerator.  For us a normal camping trip is about 300 miles each way and a  stay of 3 to 7 days, several times a year.  We have made a couple of longer distance trips too.  Our trailer weighs 6300 lbs loaded and is easily pulled by our Dodge 1500, 5.7 engine. 

Now if we were to go full time or maybe camp for a period exceeded a couple of weeks, I would want more in a trailer but then would also need to go heavier on my tow vehicle.  For us the "light" has been a good match.
Lowell

2005 Cherokee28A TT
pulled by 2009 Dodge 1500 Crew Cab 4X4
KF7YET

Tempe, Arizona

BigLarry

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 08:43:40 PM »
Our Rockwood is an ultra-lite and so far its held up well, with no problems which I can blame on being poorly built.  We bought it used (one year old) and felt like we bought it cheap enough that we could sell it after a year or two and not get hurt too bad.  At this point we've had it 3 years and have been satisfied.  It's been pulled about 40,000 miles to this point, including a 12,000 mile trip to Alaska.
Larry and Betty
Bryan, Texas
2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4 Diesel
2016 Cougar 28RLS

donn

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 09:18:29 PM »
For your first RV I would shy away from new.  Instead go for a used model about 5-7 years old.  They are pretty cheap and plentiful.  The big reason is that you will not find your ideal RV the first time around.  So buying a nice used unit you save a lot of dollars in depreciation and in a year or two when you decide if the RV lifestyle is for you or not selling it will be easy to either upgrade to another used with more of the features you want or get out of the RV scene altogether.  Also do not go too large the first time around.  Start off with maybe a 22-25 foot and then decide what and how you like to travel.

Mopar1973Man

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  • Dodge Cummins Powered / Jayco Eagle Living
Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2011, 09:50:06 AM »
For your first RV I would shy away from new.  Instead go for a used model about 5-7 years old.  They are pretty cheap and plentiful.  The big reason is that you will not find your ideal RV the first time around.  So buying a nice used unit you save a lot of dollars in depreciation and in a year or two when you decide if the RV lifestyle is for you or not selling it will be easy to either upgrade to another used with more of the features you want or get out of the RV scene altogether.  Also do not go too large the first time around.  Start off with maybe a 22-25 foot and then decide what and how you like to travel.

Very good suggestion... ^^^^
Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
2002 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins Turbo Diesel
2000 Jayco Eagle FBS 296
2013 BigTex 70TV Utility Trailer

Phil Hyde

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2011, 10:46:22 AM »
For your first RV I would shy away from new.  Instead go for a used model about 5-7 years old.  They are pretty cheap and plentiful.  The big reason is that you will not find your ideal RV the first time around.  So buying a nice used unit you save a lot of dollars in depreciation and in a year or two when you decide if the RV lifestyle is for you or not selling it will be easy to either upgrade to another used with more of the features you want or get out of the RV scene altogether.  Also do not go too large the first time around.  Start off with maybe a 22-25 foot and then decide what and how you like to travel.

A variation of this is to rent if you can.  We rented several times, and through those trips, started getting a feel for what worked and didn't.
2015 Ford F350 CC 4WD DRW
2010 Keystone Montana Mountaineer 345-DBQ

robdrew7

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Re: Lite, Ultra-Lite, or "Regular"?
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2011, 03:29:15 PM »
Thank you all for the excellent advice!  I will enjoy some time looking, and learning how to inspect a trailer.

Rob
Rob & Elaine
Ford F-150  EcoBoost V6, 2wd
28' "Back Country" TT by Outdoors RV
Pleasanton, California