Trailer brands - where to start

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DaveDiesel

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Sep 4, 2018
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16
Hello all,
As I continue to research my new hobby. I'm learning there are so many different brands of travel trailers. Due to my lack of experience, I have no frame of reference similar to cars/trucks/motorcycles regarding quality, cost, or rules of thumb for buying used. Any advise/guidance would be much appreciated. Thanks.   
 

xrated

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Oct 24, 2016
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"Murvil", E. TN.
I am well satisfied with my Keystone Fuzion Impact.  I bought an Impact 303 which is a 35' tow behind Toy Hauler.  Empty weight..9K. GVWR.....13K......so right at 4000 lbs of cargo capacity.

Almost every trailer will have some issues, but obviously some brands are better than others.  I did a lot of research before buying mine and The Fuzion line from Keystone seemed to be one of the better built ones out there.  Another brand, Grand Design is also known to be a quality unit, they were just more $$$$ than I was willing to spend.
 

UTTransplant

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Jul 20, 2014
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Cedar Falls, IA
Quality is pretty much directly related to MSRP. It is a very price-competitive market, and no one can afford to lose market share because they are priced higher than equivalent brands. If you are new, most recommend buying used for your first rig. Just be careful to find someone competent to go over the unit before you buy (not the dealer!). Water damage is the overwhelming killer of rigs, so that is the main thing to look for. Hard sometimes for a newbie to spot though. Prices on used units can be 50% of new within a few years of production though.

The other big piece of advice is to not buy more trailer than your truck can safely tow. Dealers will lie through their teeth and tell you whatever truck you have can pull any rig on the lot. Nope. Educate yourself on that first, then look at trailers.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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West Palm Beach, FL
In a given price class, there isn't much difference in any of the brands. The basic quality of construction and materials is driven by the target price of the unit.  As UTTransplant says, the extreme price competition in the RV market prevents any inflated pricing for a given size and set of features. To make one model less expensive than another, corners have to be cut on components, materials and assembly costs - there is no free lunch here!

There are three major areas to look at:
(1) Running gear & chassis
(2) "House" construction and materials
(3) Appliances

1. You want a trailer chassis that is strong (rigid) with plenty of weight capacity (GVWR) for the size, plus axles & tires that are more than barely sufficient to carry the GVWR.  So called "lite" models typically cut out weight by using a skimpier chassis, and lower priced models save on axle and tires.

2. The house can be anything from a wood frame with metal siding and a rubber roof to a steel frame with fiberglass sidewalls and roof. Generally, a metal frame  and composite fiberglass sidewalls are superior, but there are exceptions. Some of the very best built travel trailers have metal frames with aluminum skins.  This subject could be a lengthy topic all by itself (with many conflicting examples), so I won't elaborate here.  Cabinetry is another area where the quality can be anywhere from cheap composites with vinyl surfaces to stained hardwoods. Assembly quality, i.e. workmanship, is driven by the time spent on assembly and that again relates to cost.  Cheaper rigs have sloppy work under the covers, on the roof and most any place its not too visible. Last, the materials used for flooring and upholstery vary wide ly with cost.

3. The appliances are usually the easy part - they all come from the same 2-3 RV industry suppliers and the models are mostly equivalent. Fridges, water heaters, water pumps, furnaces and a/c units will be mostly alike. Just take note of features and capacities, e.g. is the fridge 8 cubic ft or 10, or the furnace 25,000 btu or 30, 000, or the a/c is a heat pump vs cool only.
 

grashley

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May 7, 2015
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Location
Western Kentucky
As stated, this market is very competitive.  Similar price new, similar quality.

When looking at used, NADA RV guide lists the initial MSRP for all campers, along with their CALCULATED depreciated value.  The data base for actual sales does not exist like it does with cars.

I bought my FW last winter. 2009 model, $72K MSRP, VERY well maintained, great shape, bought for $26K
 

DaveDiesel

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Posts
16
Everyone,
Thanks for all the information and guidance! Much to learn about. I just reserved an 18' trailer for a weekend in Oct. Really looking forward to giving this a try!
 

DaveDiesel

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Sep 4, 2018
Posts
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DaveDiesel said:
Everyone,
Thanks for all the information and guidance! Much to learn about. I just reserved an 18' trailer for a weekend in Oct. Really looking forward to giving this a try!

It's a Sportsman Trailer 2
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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West Palm Beach, FL
The small trailer market is almost exclusively weekenders with a low budgets, so there are very few of the more expensive and better built models.  Probably the most well-known would be an Airstream Flying Cloud, where a 19 footer runs $66k.  They aren't perfect either, but they are built to last with high quality materials in and out.
 

Hanr3

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Jul 5, 2012
Posts
392
Location
Central Illinois
I recently went through this exercise. For me, it was easier to first list everything I wanted, and everything I needed (must have) from the camper. Once I created that list, then I started searching for units that meet those requirements. Then I started looking at the quality of the units available. 

Start with the big questions first.
Full time, part time, or weekend warrior?
Tow vehicle: truck, SUV, Mini-van or something else?
What is the tow ratings of your tow vehicle? Look at the gross rating of the trailer, not the empty weight. Your going to put stuff in it and it won't be empty when you go camping.
What style of camping; full hook-up, electric only, 30 amp or 50 amp. 80% of campsites have 30 amp service, roughly 20% of campsites have 50amp service and most of those are full hook-up.
How many people on average will be with you? You and the dog, or a family of 4 plus a dog? Consider kids friends, but don't buy a bigger camper thinking your entire extended family is coming. You can always set-up tents.
Inside and outside kitchen?
Outside shower?
Inside shower?
Toilet? Privacy when using the toilet? Especially on a rainy day? What is your privacy comfort level, ask the spouse too. Privacy gets complicated in mixed company.
Bedroom separate from the rest of the camper? Again a privacy question. Ask the spouse.

While everyone has visions of camping in perfect weather, rarely is that the case. Rain happens. Can the unit accommodate the crew for an extended period without tempers being challenged? Space is expensive. Entertainment is cheap. Keeping the crew entertained is far easier then providing a separate living space for every one. Cards and board games are great at passing the time. So is reading a good book.

One last question- Heating and cooling. Can your family survive without either? Or do you need a unit that can maintain 70 degrees year round? What is your comfort level? Don't forget about those rainy days. Opening the window and turning on a fan is great on nice cool days, however when its 90 degrees out and raining cats and dogs opening the windows is rarely an option. That camper can get mighty stuffy and then cramped when people are looking for space to cool off. I bring along a 10'x20' portable carport and set it up over the picnic table. Table is under one end and camp chairs go under the other. Makes a great retreat when the camper is stuffy. I love to sit under it during a rain storm. Fallen asleep many a times in my camp chair under that dining fly. 
 

DaveDiesel

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Posts
16
Hanr3 said:
I recently went through this exercise. For me, it was easier to first list everything I wanted, and everything I needed (must have) from the camper. Once I created that list, then I started searching for units that meet those requirements. Then I started looking at the quality of the units available.

Very helpful comments. Thanks!
 

DaveDiesel

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Sep 4, 2018
Posts
16
Hello all,
The wife and I liked the floor plan on a 2019 Palomino Puma 31BHSS. Any thoughts on this model/brand? Thanks.
 

DaveDiesel

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Posts
16
DaveDiesel said:
Hello all,
The wife and I liked the floor plan on a 2019 Palomino Puma 31BHSS. Any thoughts on this model/brand? Thanks.

After researching this site, I don't think it would be a good idea to tow this size trailer with my Toyota. The search continues.....
 

grashley

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Location
Western Kentucky
Lynx0849 said:
Yes, floor plan, floor plan, floor plan.

If the floor plan isn?t great for you, the rest won?t matter.

AMEN!!

Why new?  Save lots of $$$, buy gently used, and let someone else deal with getting all the warranty work done!
 

DaveDiesel

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Posts
16
grashley said:
AMEN!!

Why new?  Save lots of $$$, buy gently used, and let someone else deal with getting all the warranty work done!

Yes. I think buying used is the way to go. 
 

Hanr3

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Joined
Jul 5, 2012
Posts
392
Location
Central Illinois
DaveDiesel said:
After researching this site, I don't think it would be a good idea to tow this size trailer with my Toyota. The search continues.....

Look for a similar floor plan in a smaller unit.
There only X number of ways to configure a box to hold a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc. I bet your floor plan exists in a smaller unit. Maybe even from teh same manufatcure?
Slide outs add weight.
 

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