EPDM Coatings
rvupgradestore.com Composet Products
RV Life Magazine RV Park Reviews RV Trip Wizard

Author Topic: Second Guessing Size  (Read 2847 times)


  • ---
  • Posts: 108
Second Guessing Size
« on: February 22, 2015, 11:03:20 AM »
My wife and I and my boy (6.5) are going to travel the US for a year starting in July, homeschooling him and seeing whatever is to be seen.

I ordered a Sandpiper 371REBH, which has a mid-bunkhouse, washer prep, a back living room, nice bedroom, huge refrigerator, very comfortable, but big, just about 43 feet.

I've got a F350 Turbo-Diesel Dually to pull it.

But I'm getting a little nervous now that it's too big. I'm not really afraid of driving it, though my wife is, but I am nervous we won't get much choice in camp and rv grounds. I'm also realizing that there even some cool roads I won't be able to travel with such a long trailer (for example the Pacific Coast Highway, route 1).

I could have gone smaller, Wildcat QBH 38 ft with a conventional bunkhouse (so real living room to speak of)

Or smaller yet, with a Wildcat QBX which comes in just under 35 feet, has a bunkhouse, but no washer-prep.

Now I'm even wondering if I shouldn't have just gotten a small motor-home and a toad. . . .

My initial thinking was that we are used to a lot of space (we live in a 3,000 SF house, and my kid has his own room), and we'll be a year together and home comfort should out-weigh campsite choice, and, if we plan ahead we may do okay, and besides even 35 feet is too big for some campgrounds, and if we really, really want to wilderness camp occasionally, maybe we can just get a tent, and we can park the fifth wheel and do the Pacific Coast highway by truck etc.

But I'm losing sleep second guessing myself.  Any help/reassurance would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2015, 11:35:25 AM by OnSabbatical »
F350, Turbo-Diesel, DRW
Sandpiper 371 REBH


  • Guest
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2015, 01:18:28 PM »
Big is good. Think of the rainy days when you'll be inside. Print out the list of California roads from their DOT website and see if your combination is too long. ( http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/engineering/trucks/truck-length-routes.htm )

The limitations of large rigs are in general, greatly exagerated by those who don't have one. It's very much like those with gas rigs telling people about how expensive diesel rigs are. Buy what makes you happy and go. You'll always regret 100% of the trips you didn't take.


John From Detroit

  • ---
  • Posts: 20838
  • ^My New Home^
    • Diabetics Forum
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2015, 01:29:39 PM »
First: Second guessing, and I wish-ing, is the norm for ANY major purchase..  I doubt there is anyone who has spent as much money as you have (or half that amount) in one place who has not woke up the next day or two and thought something along the lines of "Oh My God, What Have I Done" or "What Was I Thinking"

Now to your points.. Yes, 43 feet will limit your choice of campground, perhaps 10-15 percent of the campgrounds you might stay at are going to have no choice but to turn you away,, 50 percent of them may limit your choice of sites.   But there will be another CG likely within a couple miles that can handle it just fine.    And the bigger house may be more comfortable in the long run.

As for your wife driving.. Yes, it takes some getting used to.. There are driver's ed cources for RVers though I can not help you locate one or a 5er... The F-350 Dually sounds like a good tow vehicle choice though.   I see far too many pulilng a high F-250 load with a 150... (Scary) but this sounds like it might be enough tow vehicle.

Bottom line is this; Instead of worrying "Did I make the right choice?" Which, of course, each and every person in this forum has done at one or another time... Try thinking: "How much fun can I have with this?"

Think about your child(ren).. While other kids are studying the Battle of Gettysburg.. IN a book.

Yours can study..  ON THE BATTLE FIELD.  (my daughter did that)

and that is just one such example... (I will limit to one because if I listed 'em all this message would not get posted till.. Well, I'm not sure I'll live that long).
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 63616
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2015, 04:13:20 PM »
Second guessing yourself is common for a big step like this, but don't let it wear you down.

The universe of all campsites is quite large, so being unable to fit easily in some of them is not a severe limitation Older parks in particular may have small sites are narrow roads - they were the norm just 15 or so years ago.  We drive a 40 foot motorhome and are used to a reduced choice, though we can no longer visit some places we used to enjoy when we had smaller rigs. Since this is your first RV, you won't be missing what you never had. Just be aware that some campsites and roads may be stressful or even impossible to use and plan accordingly.

With a large, luxurious rig, you will probably be looking for sites with 50A full hook-ups. Those tend to be built to accommodate larger rigs anyway.
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL


  • ---
  • Posts: 1289
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2015, 04:55:03 PM »
If a semi(tractor/trailer) can got there, you an go there.  You will run across a couple of roads where duallys are not allowed because of width.  One is the Needles Hwy in the Black Hills, but they are far and few between.  Some Nat'l parks have limits on lengths and may only have a couple of sites that size that could be full.

I don't know what you have for a definition of wilderness camping, but mine is getting away from people.  If that's the case you have BLM land all over.  Literally thousands of acres to park on.  Some of the State Forest campgrounds in Minnesota are big enough to put 2 or 3 of your 5ers on.  In S Dak and N Dak you have Nat'l grasslands and you can park on any of these as long as you are no more than a certain distance of the trail.  A cow path is a trail by the way and we camp like that a lot when we go hunting.

You are longer than my 37 feet, but the only time I have a problem is in gas stations.  Look for truck stops and use the big boy pumps.

Don't worry, be happy ;D ;D ;D
Keven Jansen
'06 Chevy 2500 Duramax
'02 Montana Big Sky
Alexandria, Mn


  • ---
  • Posts: 1150
  • Life's a series of experiences, enjoy every one.
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2015, 06:05:45 PM »
Well as a truck driver that pulls a 53' trailer with a 244" wheel base tractor, let me assure you, the more you drive it, the more comfortable you'll be with it.  I started out with 40' trailer, moved to a 42', then a 48', then a 50', then to a 53' trailer.  Pulling them down the road is really not much different, you just want to make sure you really are past who you are passing when you move back over.  Try this: Park a car on your right side, pull up until you are passed the vehicle, get out and look to see where you are, note the spot in your spot mirror that the vehicle is in, ie. the car is half way down the mirror.  Then when you are passing, make sure the vehicle is at least that far back from you. 

Then you want to be careful with right hand turns, just take it wide, it will be fine.  In really tight downtown areas, when you make the turn and a car is in a turn lane that you need to make it wide enough to get around a power pole or sign, usually they will back up, if not, I just set my brakes and wait, soon they will back up so you can make the turn.

The challenge with longer trailers is that they take longer to turn when backing.  So if one is backing a small boat trailer, a minor change in the wheel will make a major quick change in the trajectory of the trailer.  With a longer trailer it takes longer to react to adjustments in the steering when backing.  So you will need more room, as it takes longer to turn.  Trees and other obstacles on your right side you will want to get out and check as you're backing.  I've been backing trailers for about 35 years now, and if you want to call me a rookie for getting out to look several times when I'm backing a trailer, I don't have a problem with that.  But I see it as better to get out and look 4 or 5 times during the back, than to hit just one item.  I don't want to run over a curb, through a ditch, etc..  I don't care how many people have done it before me, that can always damage your vehicle, and I care about mine. 

Also, "Blindside" backing is difficult for most, you always want to back in from the drivers side.  ie.  The spot I want to put it in is on the drivers side as I pull past it, then position the truck to put it in the spot.  I will turn the truck around if possible to avoid blind side backing.  Sometimes that is the only way, but if at all possible avoid blindside backing.

Don't get in a hurry, and don't worry about people that do.  I've had many a people wait on me while I back one in, and I've never heard of any deaths.  With the way some people are, one would think their eyes are going to pop out of their head, but they never do.  ;) Haste makes waste, once you've done it several times you will have good days when you don't even need to pull up once, or get out and look. 

You only have to back in once to stay the whole night, week, or month.  The backing part can be a challenge, and challenges are fun, as without a challenge, life would be boring and not worth living.  And that 43' trailer will have a lot of space to enjoy all that living!

Many roads that trucks can't take, I took before they posted them.  Many are now marked "dangerous for trucks and vehicles with trailers,"  HORSE HOCKEY!  They're some of the most beautiful and relaxing roads out there.  If you have any experience and common sense those roads won't be a problem.  If you're a 16 year old boy with a Camaro, high speeds on this road may kill you when you wrap that car around a tree.  Most of those roads were marked that way because neighbors or businesses complained about trucks, and politicians banned us from those roads, restricting interstate commerce.  It didn't have anything to do with safety, that's just the excuse they use to make it legal.  But as most truckers won't write their reps or senators, they will post more and more roads that are fine for vehicles with a 43' trailer, or a 53' trailer.

As I read what I wrote it could sound like it's difficult, it's not.  These are just tips that I hope help.  It's really fun, you're going to adapt fast to your new toy, and love to have all that room to roam when camping!
1999 Winnebago Adventurer 37G , Ford V-10
2006 Honda VTX 1300S


  • ---
  • Posts: 5307
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2015, 08:06:46 PM »
IIRC there is a gps that you can put in not only length and height of your rig, but also pin length to help weed out unsuitable roads.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant

2016 Leprechaun 319DS


  • ---
  • Posts: 1289
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2015, 07:45:52 AM »
99Win covered a lot of good points.  One other piece of advice is to go to a large parking lot like a church when no one is around and practice backing.  I found that if I place small objects, pieces of wood etc, on the ground making a path where I want my tires to go helps.   Watch the path of your 5er tires and keep them close to the blocks and I find backing much easier.

Go slow and practice. Parking lots usually have the parking stripes painted on them and you can use them as guides also.
Keven Jansen
'06 Chevy 2500 Duramax
'02 Montana Big Sky
Alexandria, Mn


  • ---
  • Posts: 108
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2015, 10:13:46 AM »
Thanks Everyone for your encouragement and advice!

My local Good Sam actually offers free RV driving lessons, and I've contacted the instructor who says he will get me ready for pick up by April.

You've eased my mind and helped get back into the positive mindset.

Appreciate it.
F350, Turbo-Diesel, DRW
Sandpiper 371 REBH


  • ---
  • Posts: 91
Re: Second Guessing Size
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2015, 02:22:47 PM »
Yeah, you definitely won't be able to do the PAC (the Pacific Coast Highway), you'll have to park and take the truck.
Even with such a large rig you shouldn't be hindered too much at all, provided you stick to the major thoroughfares while in the rig.
One good rule of thumb is; If a trucker in a big rig can (legally) drive a road, so can you, but some portions of the PAC you just can't physically
do regardless, and you shouldn't even attempt to try.

One of the best ways to set your mind at ease will be by PLANNING your trip.

If I were you I'd be sitting at my computer going over Google and Google maps, looking at all the RV parks in the intended areas
of your travel, even phoning a few. I'd also be looking at the roads you want to travel on.
Google earth, or Google maps in satellite view, can offer up valuable information. You'll be able to physically see park space sizes.
Bring a laptop with you and make certain you can get connected to the internet.
You'll start to get a real good idea of what's out there, from everything about where you can get your fuel to park sizes and road conditions.


Most RV parks will easily accommodate you, camp sites may vary, but it'll be up to you to actually look into it.
Many RV parks will have their larger spaces reserved for those that have big rigs, like you do.

By the time you get to were you're going you'll start getting more and more comfortable with the driving aspect.
2006 Dodge RAM 2500 Diesel
2013 Shadow Cruiser S225RBS from Cruiser RV