Importance of 4x4 for camping and towing with a 5er???

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GaryB

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How important is it to have a 4x4 tow vehicle instead of 4x2 for towing a 5er?  I plan to buy a new F250 and 5er, and my only remaining decision is whether to get a 4x4 or 4x2 (I thought I had already settled on a 4x4, but then a post the other day started me thinking again). 

I've never been in a campground before!  Do most campgrounds have paved or well graveled roads and camp sites?  I doubt I'll ever get "too" adventurous by driving into very challenging areas.  But I would like to be able to travel to Alaska/Canada and visit campgrounds in national/state parks and Army Corps parks.  My pride could probably handle getting stuck once every 3 years, but I definitely don't want to worry about getting stuck very frequently.  How problematic is that?  I don't mind spending the extra money for a 4x4, but am concerned from the standpoint of the extra weight (thus lower towing capacity), lower mileage and more potential maintenance issues (I've never owned a 4x4 before, much less an RV).  I'd be interested in everybody else's opinions about the importance of having a 4x4 for towing/camping in a 5er.

Thanks
Gary
 

Ned

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Some campgrounds have nice, paved roads and sites, others have gravel roads and uneven, unpaved, even grassy, sites.  There is no standard.  Public campgrounds vary from Core of Engineers parks with paved roads and sites to NFS campgrounds with narrow, twisty, roads and primitive sites.  If in doubt, walk through the park before driving in to see if you will be comfortable driving and parking there.  Most private campgrounds will accomodate any size RV or they wouldn't stay in business.  Some are better than others.

You certainly don't NEED a 4x4 to tow a 5W or trailer and it can be a disadvantage due to the higher weight, and thus lower towing capacity.  Most RVers never get stuck, you just have to excersise common sense and be careful where you drive.
 

N Smock

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I find that on occasion in wet grass, which is slippery, it helps to have 4X4. It is seldom that I use 4 wheel to get the trailer moving.

Of course the plus is that I don' have to plow the driveway ;D ;D.


Nelson
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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During the three+ years we had a fifth wheel I had one bad year when I got stuck three times: once on a gravel hill, once on wet grass in a clay soil, and once (also on grass) when there was a monsoon and the park flooded. There was 3 inches of water on our site that time and we were 100 feet from the gravel road.  We had an F250 with limited slip at the time and that year I wished it was a 4x4.    Each time, somebody with a 4x4 hitched a chain onto out truck and gave us an assist to firmer ground.  Only one of these occurrences (the gravel hill) was "pushng the envelope" of where you might reasonably expect to camp with a large fiver - the others were typical campgrounds in somewhat unusual conditions. 

So, does that mean you need a 4x4 for towing? No, I really don't think so.  I would probably get a 4x4 myself if we went back to fifth wheels, but once in awhile we do get well off the beaten track (we do it in the motorhome too).  You certainly don't need one to tour Alaska - you may encounter roads that are rough and mudd, but geting stuck is most unlikely unless you try to penetrate the real back roads. Even then I would say it is unlikely - we have had our 36 foot motorhome  a mile or more into the Canadian & Alaskan back country where there was nothing more than a track along a river bottom, all without without incident.
 

BruceinFL

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I have never needed a 4X4 when towing any of my 5ers. At least, not yet.  ;D
 

Lowell

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I've always had a 4X4, but in 15 years of camping, I've never had to engage the 4 wheel drive while pulling the trailers. But I park the trailer in prepared campgrounds.  I've considered the off road camp sites in the national forest but haven't used them myself.  Following a heavy rain, one might need 4 wheel drive in that event.
Jake
 

Jeannine

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We have a heavy trailer.  Before we had a pickup with 4x4 we got stuck on wet grass several times, including at least twice in commercial campgrounds.  Now that we have 4 wheel drive, Dan likes to use it when backing into tight spaces. 

Jeannine
 

Dave R

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I second what RV Romer said. We have gotten stuck three times once in wet grass on clay, once in sand that we couldn't see in the dark, and
once somewhere I don't rember. If I was to buy another truck today I probably get a 4X4 just because.

Dave
 

Carl L

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Well if you do, get one with manual locking hubs.  The auto locking hubs are no good after you get stuck -- they have to roll forward or back about 10' to engage them.  Stuck you aren't rolling them anywhere.    Of course, one could always engage them before hitching up -- but who does that, eh?
 

BernieD

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Carl Lundquist said:
Well if you do, get one with manual locking hubs.  The auto locking hubs are no good after you get stuck -- they have to roll forward or back about 10' to engage them.  Stuck you aren't rolling them anywhere.    Of course, one could always engage them before hitching up -- but who does that, eh?

Carl

Is that true with all trucks? My XTerra has semi-automatic locking hubs and I can engage 4x4 on the fly or sitting still. I do have to back up a "meter or two" to disengage.
 

judway

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I towed for about 3 years with a GMC Z71 and needed the 4W drive one time in Hiawassi Ga to back up hill into my parking space. It came in handy that time. I found that the 4W drive greatly lengthened the turning radius of the truck. It made the 5W hard to back into a space. I would check the turning radius for both with and without 4W drive. I would not tow with a 4W drive again unless I needed it for poor back roads.

Wayne
 

GaryB

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Thanks, all, for the feedback thus far.

By the way, are there many "trails" in national/state parks that are only manueverable with 4x4's?  Or are those trails usually in good enuf shape for a 4x2? 

Also, I'd be curious of the "fuel (mpg) penalty" that anybody has calculated for a 4x4 versus a 4x2 (apples to apples).  I'm assuming I could fit a 4x4 under a 7 ft garage door (the Ford height specs are just 2-3 inches shy of 7 ft, not sure how accurate those specs are).

Gary
 

Carl L

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By the way, are there many "trails" in national/state parks that are only manueverable with 4x4's?  Or are those trails usually in good enuf shape for a 4x2? 

All depends on the park and the region.  Out here in the West Canyonlands NP and Arches NP are famous for 4WD traiils of difficulty up to blind terror.  National forest have plenty of trails you would like to 4WD on.  In California, Anza Borrego Desert State Park has 635,000 acres of 4WD country.  Death Valley and Joshua Tree NPs have their share too. 

If you are into to back country 4 wheeling, a 4WD is not the only criteria.  Armored undercarrage including gas tank are important.  Good ground clearance is vital.  Short wheelbase is very desirable -- a problem with pickups.  And of course tires, good offroad tires like the BF Goodrich T/A KO series.  Passenger rated tires are doomed to early death in the out back and rocky.
 

Lowell

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GaryB said:
Also, I'd be curious of the "fuel (mpg) penalty" that anybody has calculated for a 4x4 versus a 4x2 (apples to apples). I'm assuming I could fit a 4x4 under a 7 ft garage door (the Ford height specs are just 2-3 inches shy of 7 ft, not sure how accurate those specs are).

Gary

I'm guessing that a 4X4 will cost about 2-3 MPG compared to a 2-wheel drive vehicle. The 4X4 caries extra weight in the transmission, transfer case, skid plates, etc.  I had to adjust the "up travel" on my garage door opener to get my Dodge Quad cab 1500 4x4 with 20" tires to clear.  It goes into a standard garage but the length just barely clears.
Jake
 

lazydays

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It?s not so much needing a 4x4 for towing your 5er, I think it?s more what you want to do after camp is set up with your truck. We just spent 5 days in a nice campground near the Chiricahua mountains. We traversed the mountain range from one end to the other. The streams were all running full and the going was very muddy, the forest service can?t do a lot with the roads in this situation so they were in rough condition. When we got back to the campgrounds and parked in front of our shiny new 5er with or covered in mud truck it became quite a conversation starter. So decide if you need a 4x4 by what you intend to do  if you are going from one camp to another I doubt if you would need one, but if you intend to go off road as we do it?s a necessity.  8)
 

Lowell

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lazyday,

What campground did you use in the Chircahua's and how did you like it?  I haven't been there for a long time but would like to go back.
Jake
 

threeful

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I have a 2003 Dodge 2500 4x4 diesel and tow about 11K pound, 5ver.  A friend of mine has a 2003 dodge dually 2x4, diesel.  In town I get about 2 mpg less than he does on the road about 1 mpg less.  He hauls a truck camper and a horse trailer and we both get about 12-13 mpg when hauling (level roads interstate travel in TX).  I have a 4x4 because I like to hunt and fish and would not be caught dead without one because of where I hunt and fish.  We are moving to PA the end of the month and the truck will see and feel the snow in the mountains, soon. 

Personally with the Dodge, if you have a slip differential, I wouldn't pay the extra money, unless you want a 4x4 for something other than hauling.
 

lazydays

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Jake said:
lazyday,

What campground did you use in the  Chircahua's and how did you like it?? I haven't been there for a long time but would like to go back.
Jake

Hi Jake
We stayed in St David which is about a 30 mile drive, had a 5 day 4 night deal from Beaudry RV when we bought our new 5er. With our old Layton 25? 5er we used to camp up pinery canyon, but our new one is 38? so we needed a real cg while we scouted out a closer one which we found in NM. Rustys RV Ranch.com is there web site, it is just before the entrance to Portal on Highway 80 about 9 miles south of I 10 or if coming from the south about 10 miles north of the Geronimo surrender site. We will be there in November for a hunt I have in the Chircahua's. There prices are $21.00 a day or $130.00 a week  $375 for a month but you get a ? acre site for your RV fire pit and all. We stopped in and talked to the owners (They are Rvers also) they are just getting started and we where very impressed by the way they were setting it up every site is a pull thru with lots of room around your 5er and The views are fantastic.  Can?t wait till November, the last time we where up in the mountains was a few years ago everything was so dry. This has to be one of the wettest times I remember up there, a lot of the roads you basically had to mow the grass out of the middle. The road up through Riggs Ranch (about 8 miles south off the Chiricahua Nat Monument) was so over grown and the stream that had been dry for several years was running right down the middle of the road for several hundred yards talk about a mudders haven.
 

Houseofarticcats

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I think like a few say it is personal preffence.. We pull our 29' with a F350 4x4 crew cab.. and I am glad it is a 4x4.. We went to a camp ground in Mystic CT. A very nice place well taken care off but it was a rainy spring and the grass had clay under it and was very wet.. I pulled in to back into our site and.. Hummm wet grass.. So I locked in the hubs and still spun backing into our spot..When I got done I got out to see a lot of people watching me play in the wet and muddy grass... Then I looked back at the rut's... YIKES....But.. the next day a fellow 5er did the very same thing in the next site to us.. He got a bit frustrated and spun his wheels a little more and made much bigger ruts..hehehehehehehe (I can laugh at him.)hehehehehe
The biggest problem I see is turning radius... and the gas....
 

GaryB

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Carl Lundquist said:
Well if you do, get one with manual locking hubs.? ?The auto locking hubs are no good after you get stuck --

Hi Carl and All - by "manual locking hubs", do you mean the type where the shift lever is on the floor as opposed to a switch on the dashboard?? I believe I saw these manual hubs referred to somewhere else as "fully unlocking hubs", "lockout hubs" or "free spin hubs".? It was said that this type of 4x4 will provide the same mpg as a 4x2 since the front drive train won't always be spinning.? Is this true?? If so, if I choose the 4x4, then do I just order it without the "electronic shift on fly" option (which, without that option, will give me the "manual" hubs)?

Thanks
Gary
 
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