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mdalton

Member
Joined
May 6, 2022
Posts
6
Location
Pennsylvania
Hello everyone! I am new to the RV world! Ever since I was a teenager I wanted an RV, to just be able to go and explore what's out there. I am doing my research ahead of purchasing and am learning so much. There is so much info out there, it's a bit overwhelming. I am leaning towards starting with a TT, but I've never towed anything before so I'm a bit nervous about that. What are some really important tips you can provide for newbies looking to tow a TT for the first time???
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Joined
Nov 17, 2018
Posts
2,782
Location
Albuquerque, NM
Look around, see how many trailers you see running around town - delivery trucks, landscapers, construction equipment, guys hauling 4 wheelers, on and on. Lots of people do it, with all manner of sizes of trailers and tow vehicles. My point - it's not hard once you figure it out. And it won't take you long to figure it out. My initiation came when I needed to tow a small camper for a scout group. Spending a day of quality time at my workplace on a Saturday when no one was there is all it took. I practiced hitching, unhitching, connecting chains and testing lights, then cruising around the lot getting used to how it handled. From there it was practice backing up into the truck loading docks, where there were barriers on both sides and you had to get it right. The first few times you learn what "jackknife" means but it doesn't take many tries to get the gist of how to get the wheels to go where you want them to. Not sure if you have a tow vehicle yet or not but if you could borrow a small trailer of any kind from someone and just give it a try I think you'll find it's far less intimidating than it seems. No question pulling a popup with a car is easier than a giant 5th wheel and a dually pickup but it just comes down to practice. Again, there are lots and lots of people that do this every day, so you can do it too.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

Ex-Calif

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May 15, 2020
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3,326
Location
NorthCentral Florida
Main advice - The more capable the tow vehicle the easier it will be.

There are a couple of basic terms and definitions to help you get started -

Tow vehicle
MGVWR - This is the maximum gross vehicle weight rating - It is the heaviest the tow vehicle can be
MCGVWR - This is the maximum combined gross vehicle weight rating - it is the number above + the weight of what you want to tow.
Payload - This is the theoretical weight you can load in the tow vehicle. Cargo people etc.
Tongue weight - This is how "heavy" it is to lift up the trailers hitch. Usually you want 10-12% of the trailers weight.

So if you travel trailer weighs 7,000 pounds you will want the pin weight to be 700-840 pounds.

This is usually the critical number. A vehicle may purport to tow 10,000 pounds but that means the pin weight of 1,000-1,200 pounds exceeds the vehicles payload when passengers, gas and gear are added.

So going back to my first piece of advice -

Trailer -
Up to about 25 feet - F150/1500 class
25-28 feet - F250/2500 class
Above 28 feet - F350/3500 class

The devil is in the exact details - specifically the trailer weight and the tow package on the vehicle but this guideline should keep you well in the tow capability of the tow vehicle.
 

mdalton

Member
Joined
May 6, 2022
Posts
6
Location
Pennsylvania
Thank you both for your replies. I expect to be practicing in empty lots at first for a good bit. I do not have a tow vehicle, I am actually in the process of test driving them now. I currently have a Mazda and a Jeep Wrangler but will be trading them for a bigger tow vehicle. I am considering an SUV (gasp, I know) and a pickup. I've never had a pickup as my own vehicle before, I've always had SUV's. I test drove a Dodge Durango that I liked, has a tow capacity of 6200 and I will be test driving a Ram 1500 on Monday (that will be something else to get used to). Any advise on which is easier to tow with? I am looking at starting small, with a rpod, or maybe a wolf pup, something around 20-21
 

Mark_K5LXP

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 17, 2018
Posts
2,782
Location
Albuquerque, NM
I've towed with both and find each has subtle differences but no clear winner. I think you'll find that pickups will have the edge for towing capacity. But if the trailer you pick is within the limits of the SUV it will come down to how you plan on using it. SUV's are better at carrying people, trucks are better at hauling gear.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

donn

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Posts
5,436
When buying a tow vehicle, buy your second one first. Looking ahead and assuming you fall in love with the RV life where do you see yourself in 3, 5 years RV wise? Most people trade RVs every 3 or 4 years. Usually to something bigger or more comfortable. To do that will that 1500 your looking at today easily toe a larger trailer? And to be honest with you you can probably buy a decently equipped 2500 or even a 3500 for nearly the same money as that 1500 your looking at. I know it doesn't make sense today, but after your first tow with a marginal 1500 you will understand what I'm saying.
 

mdalton

Member
Joined
May 6, 2022
Posts
6
Location
Pennsylvania
Look around, see how many trailers you see running around town - delivery trucks, landscapers, construction equipment, guys hauling 4 wheelers, on and on. Lots of people do it, with all manner of sizes of trailers and tow vehicles. My point - it's not hard once you figure it out. And it won't take you long to figure it out. My initiation came when I needed to tow a small camper for a scout group. Spending a day of quality time at my workplace on a Saturday when no one was there is all it took. I practiced hitching, unhitching, connecting chains and testing lights, then cruising around the lot getting used to how it handled. From there it was practice backing up into the truck loading docks, where there were barriers on both sides and you had to get it right. The first few times you learn what "jackknife" means but it doesn't take many tries to get the gist of how to get the wheels to go where you want them to. Not sure if you have a tow vehicle yet or not but if you
Look around, see how many trailers you see running around town - delivery trucks, landscapers, construction equipment, guys hauling 4 wheelers, on and on. Lots of people do it, with all manner of sizes of trailers and tow vehicles. My point - it's not hard once you figure it out. And it won't take you long to figure it out. My initiation came when I needed to tow a small camper for a scout group. Spending a day of quality time at my workplace on a Saturday when no one was there is all it took. I practiced hitching, unhitching, connecting chains and testing lights, then cruising around the lot getting used to how it handled. From there it was practice backing up into the truck loading docks, where there were barriers on both sides and you had to get it right. The first few times you learn what "jackknife" means but it doesn't take many tries to get the gist of how to get the wheels to go where you want them to. Not sure if you have a tow vehicle yet or not but if you could borrow a small trailer of any kind from someone and just give it a try I think you'll find it's far less intimidating than it seems. No question pulling a popup with a car is easier than a giant 5th wheel and a dually pickup but it just comes down to practice. Again, there are lots and lots of people that do this every day, so you can do it too.

Mark B.
Albuquerque,
Look around, see how many trailers you see running around town - delivery trucks, landscapers, construction equipment, guys hauling 4 wheelers, on and on. Lots of people do it, with all manner of sizes of trailers and tow vehicles. My point - it's not hard once you figure it out. And it won't take you long to figure it out. My initiation came when I needed to tow a small camper for a scout group. Spending a day of quality time at my workplace on a Saturday when no one was there is all it took. I practiced hitching, unhitching, connecting chains and testing lights, then cruising around the lot getting used to how it handled. From there it was practice backing up into the truck loading docks, where there were barriers on both sides and you had to get it right. The first few times you learn what "jackknife" means but it doesn't take many tries to get the gist of how to get the wheels to go where you want them to. Not sure if you have a tow vehicle yet or not but if you could borrow a small trailer of any kind from someone and just give it a try I think you'll find it's far less intimidating than it seems. No question pulling a popup with a car is easier than a giant 5th wheel and a dually pickup but it just comes down to practice. Again, there are lots and lots of people that do this every day, so you can do it too.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
could borrow a small trailer of any kind from someone and just give it a try I think you'll find it's far less intimidating than it seems. No question pulling a popup with a car is easier than a giant 5th wheel and a dually pickup but it just comes down to practice. Again, there are lots and lots of people that do this every day, so you can do it too.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
Makes sense, but I'll need to get it to the empty lot to practice!
 

Ex-Calif

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2020
Posts
3,326
Location
NorthCentral Florida
Thank you both for your replies. I expect to be practicing in empty lots at first for a good bit. I do not have a tow vehicle, I am actually in the process of test driving them now. I currently have a Mazda and a Jeep Wrangler but will be trading them for a bigger tow vehicle. I am considering an SUV (gasp, I know) and a pickup. I've never had a pickup as my own vehicle before, I've always had SUV's. I test drove a Dodge Durango that I liked, has a tow capacity of 6200 and I will be test driving a Ram 1500 on Monday (that will be something else to get used to). Any advise on which is easier to tow with? I am looking at starting small, with a rpod, or maybe a wolf pup, something around 20-21

This leads into the second concept and that is wheel base. Generally the longer the tow vehicle wheelbase the steadier the ride. SUVs tend to have shorter wheel bases.

Before you decide on a tow vehicle you should let us know what kind of trailer you are looking at and how much space you want/intend to have.

The other issue with a travel trailer compared to other loads is that it is a huge box and gets heavily affected by the wind - again longer wheel base and slightly heavier hitch weights can help. In larger trailers the distance between the hitch and the axles is long and you get a situation where the tail can wag the dog pretty hard.

I have a Dodge 1500 quad cab with a tow rating of 8600# - I know that if I select the right trailer I can probably go to 26 feet or maybe 28 feet.

I personally would not tow anything but a 22-24 foot trailer with any SUV in the Dodge Durango class.
 

mdalton

Member
Joined
May 6, 2022
Posts
6
Location
Pennsylvania
This leads into the second concept and that is wheel base. Generally the longer the tow vehicle wheelbase the steadier the ride. SUVs tend to have shorter wheel bases.

Before you decide on a tow vehicle you should let us know what kind of trailer you are looking at and how much space you want/intend to have.

The other issue with a travel trailer compared to other loads is that it is a huge box and gets heavily affected by the wind - again longer wheel base and slightly heavier hitch weights can help. In larger trailers the distance between the hitch and the axles is long and you get a situation where the tail can wag the dog pretty hard.

I have a Dodge 1500 quad cab with a tow rating of 8600# - I know that if I select the right trailer I can probably go to 26 feet or maybe 28 feet.

I personally would not tow anything but a 22-24 foot trailer with any SUV in the Dodge Durango class.
I'm looking at 20-22 ft, maybe rpod or wolf-pup. I want to start small. So the steadier ride will be from a truck? Are SUV's more prone to away?
 

mdalton

Member
Joined
May 6, 2022
Posts
6
Location
Pennsylvania
This leads into the second concept and that is wheel base. Generally the longer the tow vehicle wheelbase the steadier the ride. SUVs tend to have shorter wheel bases.

Before you decide on a tow vehicle you should let us know what kind of trailer you are looking at and how much space you want/intend to have.

The other issue with a travel trailer compared to other loads is that it is a huge box and gets heavily affected by the wind - again longer wheel base and slightly heavier hitch weights can help. In larger trailers the distance between the hitch and the axles is long and you get a situation where the tail can wag the dog pretty hard.

I have a Dodge 1500 quad cab with a tow rating of 8600# - I know that if I select the right trailer I can probably go to 26 feet or maybe 28 feet.

I personally would not tow anything but a 22-24 foot trailer with any SUV in the Dodge Durango class.
I'm looking at 20-22 ft, maybe rpod or wolf-pup. I want to start small. So the steadier ride will be from a truck? Are SUV's more prone to sway
 

donn

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Posts
5,436
Not necessarily. The problem with SUVs is the low tow weights, especially when loaded with passengers and "stuff". You would be amazed how many will be right at GVWR when loaded with people. Personally ally a long box pickup will be way better all around d as a tow vehicle. If you want the look a pickup with one of the nice color mat he'd cab high canopy will make a much better combination. Now if you have to haul around 6 people then a SUV could be a better choice. But again you really need to be cautious of loaded vs Gross weight. I have owned and towed with both and believe me a pickup is IMHO a much better vehicle.
 

sunrisor

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2015
Posts
23
Location
SE Pennsylvania
Not necessarily. The problem with SUVs is the low tow weights, especially when loaded with passengers and "stuff". You would be amazed how many will be right at GVWR when loaded with people. Personally ally a long box pickup will be way better all around d as a tow vehicle. If you want the look a pickup with one of the nice color mat he'd cab high canopy will make a much better combination. Now if you have to haul around 6 people then a SUV could be a better choice. But again you really need to be cautious of loaded vs Gross weight. I have owned and towed with both and believe me a pickup is IMHO a much better vehicle.
What he said...
I am newbie to RVing, but not trucks and towing. Pickups do better overall.
I should warn you though. Buying pickups and/or SUVs right now is not fun, and not cheap, even for used ones. I know, I just did it. Fortunately I was in the 'want' category and not the 'need' category. I was able to wait and get the one I wanted.
I like your idea of starting small, but (I'm sure someone on here can explain this better than me) longer wheel base TTs are more forgiving when backing up. So, don't get frustrated when learning with a shorter wheelbase (ask me how I know ;)). Lots of good Youtube videos out there too. But watch a bunch. Some are better than others.
Someone above mentioned thinking ahead. Good advice too! Maybe get a (relatively) affordable pickup/SUV, and TT, with the thought of trading up in the future.
Make sure you read on here about buying/selling RVs. There is a lot of good resources on this forum. I learned a lot from here, and still am.
 

donn

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Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Posts
5,436
I'm looking at 20-22 ft, maybe rpod or wolf-pup. I want to start small. So the steadier ride will be from a truck? Are SUV's more prone to sway
Before limiting yourself to something small as a starter rig consider how you intend to use it and how comfortable it is to live in. Small means cramped on a bad weather day, and very limited tank capacities if you plan to visit non hookup camp grounds.
 

Ex-Calif

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Joined
May 15, 2020
Posts
3,326
Location
NorthCentral Florida
I'm looking at 20-22 ft, maybe rpod or wolf-pup. I want to start small. So the steadier ride will be from a truck? Are SUV's more prone to sway

Once you start looking (unless some newer models) you will find that at around 24 feet is when you get a separate berth. To me it was important to have a separated sleeping area so I was looking in the 24 foot range.

Long story but then my Class A fell into my lap. A deal too good to pass up. My brother bought a 24 footer for about $7k put in about $1k of work and he has been living in it since last May.
 

Rob&Deryl

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Mar 27, 2017
Posts
2,217
Location
On the road from mid NH
When you look at tow vehicles, take a pic of the vehicle and also of the yellow bordered sticker on the drivers door latch post. This sticker has the payload number for that vehicle with the trim and options factored in. They print the sticker at the end of the assembly line when they weigh the completed vehicle.

Then, when you choosing the tv (tow vehicle) & trailer you have actual numbers to work with, not brochure numbers which are always for the lowest trim level.
 

sardigarmi44

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Joined
May 18, 2022
Posts
1
Location
texas
I have a Dodge 1500 quad cab with a tow rating of 8600# - I know that if I select the right trailer I can probably go to 26 feet or maybe 28 feet.
 

Rob&Deryl

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Mar 27, 2017
Posts
2,217
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On the road from mid NH
Tow rating is rarely the gating item for a trailer. I could pull an 8000 lb trailer with my Harley. You have seen pickup trucks pull airplanes on tv. Shrug.

Truck weight and payload capacity are more important I think.
 

donn

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Nov 8, 2009
Posts
5,436
I have a Dodge 1500 quad cab with a tow rating of 8600# - I know that if I select the right trailer I can probably go to 26 feet or maybe 28 feet.
Do you get any wind in your part of TX? You choose to pull a 26 foot TT with your 1500 in the wind and you could easily wind up on your top.
There is so much more than GVWR/GCWR to towing safely
 

Ex-Calif

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May 15, 2020
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Location
NorthCentral Florida
Do you get any wind in your part of TX? You choose to pull a 26 foot TT with your 1500 in the wind and you could easily wind up on your top.
There is so much more than GVWR/GCWR to towing safely

Well that can happen to any rig regardless of horsepower. The windage phenomena is more about sail area and wheelbase than truck capacity.

i.e. My long bed 1500 (wheelbase for wheelbase) should perform the same as a 2500 with the same wheelbase. Shorty SUVs (and trucks) are what get dicey in the wind.

What I will concede readily that frontal area becomes an issue when compared to the manufacturers sled test. But even then once you get past 24 feet or so the frontal area is pretty consistent. So 24 feet or 28 feet my 1500 should have the same forward tow capability.

For the aerodynamicists in the group there is also something called wetted area. This is the total surface area of a vehicle in the atmosphere so 4 feet more of top, sides and bottom does add to total drag on the tow.

Sorry to be so anal about this. My engineer is poking through - LOL...
 
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