Unsure of which trailer - first time travel trailer tower

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kaintucky

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Hello,

I'm brand new to travel trailers. I've towed many boats & utility trailers but never worried about capacity because they were smaller trailers. I have a 2007 Chevy Silverado and the specs are here(as I read them (under Tech Specs tab)):
  • UVW: 5245 lbs
  • GVWR: 7000 lbs
  • Payload: 1755 lb
  • GCWR: 13000 lb
  • Max Trailer Wt (w/WDH): 7500 lb
  • Max Hitch Wt (w/WDH): 1125 lb
That being said, I'm considering 2 different travel trailers:
  1. Salem FSX 178BHS
    • UVW: 3749 lb
    • Payload: 1081 lb
    • GVWR: 4830 lb
    • Hitch Wt: 430 lb
  2. Salem Wildwood 230BHXL
    • UVW: 4941 lb
    • Payload: 2753 lb
    • GVWR: 7694 lb
    • Hitch Wt: 694 lb
There are features of each that I prefer; however, the biggest draw I have to the Salem Wildwood 230BHXL is that it has a tandem axle. But I also realize that if I combine the GVWR of the Wildwood and my truck the GCWR is exceeded. So if I go by the statistical facts of each individual GVWR and what is said in many other posts on here the Wildwood exceeds the GCWR of my truck.

But I also wonder if I'd put the max payload (1755 lb) in my truck and over 1059 lb in the trailer (to exceed 6000 lb camper, which is the max trailer weight according to GCWR). In my truck I account for gas (26g * 8.6 = ~225 lb), 2 adults & 2 kids (~450 lb), & gear (~150 lb); totaling ~825 lb which is under the payload max (do I need to add hitch weight to the payload? If so, still under payload but closer with the bigger trailer.) In the camper I account for full gray and black tanks (figured not all 3 tanks would ever be full while towing) as well as gear and liquids that won't be drained (6 - 10g I figure).

So my question is, being a first time travel trailer owner and tower is the lighter single axle trailer (Salem FSX) or the heavier tandem axle trailer (Wildwood) a smarter way to go?

Thanks,
Peter
 

steveblonde

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Hi welcome, its always good to ask first so kudos to you. Unfortunately you have a wrong number to start and that is your payload number. The number you have at 1755 is not i suspect the number for your truck but instead is a published number. ( i had an 08 gmc with the vortex MAX and HD towing package and my payload was 1300 and change) do check the yellow decal drivers side B pillar for the correct amount for your truck
It will say "passangers and cargo shall not exceed xxxx lbs)
 

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kaintucky

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Hi welcome, its always good to ask first so kudos to you. Unfortunately you have a wrong number to start and that is your payload number. The number you have at 1755 is not i suspect the number for your truck but instead is a published number. ( i had an 08 gmc with the vortex MAX and HD towing package and my payload was 1300 and change) do check the yellow decal drivers side B pillar for the correct amount for your truck
It will say "passangers and cargo shall not exceed xxxx lbs)
You're correct I do have the incorrect payload, thank you for pointing that out. I assumed payload was GVWR - UVW. The sticker says 1463 lb.
 

steveblonde

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Sweet thats a good payload for you to start off with. Always remember you don't want to max it out or you will be riding on your bumpstops the whole way , 75 -80% of that 1463 is really the outer limits for safety and comfort otherwise the front end of the truck will get really light hard to steer and stop. 1463 is All passengers in the truck everything on or in the box ie tools wood even the tonneau cover, the hitch and the trailer. You can see how it gets eaten up fast
 

kaintucky

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Thanks @steveblonde! So at the upper limit I'm looking at ~1170 lb payload capacity (1463 * .8). If I include all cargo, passengers, fuel, and trailer tongue weight of the Salem FSX (at 430 lb) I'm at roughly 1255 lb payload. Is that to say that a trailer with a tongue weight of 430 lb is too much?
 

scottydl

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Payload used to include a 160# driver (I weighed that at one time, haha) and a full tank of fuel. That changed at some point to payload including a driver, passenger, and fuel... but I can't remember what year. With a 2007 I'm guessing your truck us under the old rules. If you truly end up with a 200# payload cushion, that's probably okay given the smaller trailers you're considering. Although published tongue weights on trailers isn't likely any more accurate that your truck's published payload of 1755#. It depends greatly on how the trailer is optioned, how much weight you have inside it, where those items are stored. All of which will increase the tongue weight at a 10-15% ratio of the total trailer weight.

There are pretty major differences between the two trailers you mentioned above, primarily the max rated weight of 4800# (17 footer) vs. almost 7700# (23 footer). That's a big difference, as is the 6' additional length on the bigger trailer. There's a lot of middle ground in there depending on the features you want, and I'd say don't lock yourself into a year/make/model of trailer just yet. I realize there are some COVID restrictions still ongoing, but get out there (as much as possible) and get inside some trailers and look around. See how they actually "feel" with various sizes and floorplans, which doesn't always come across with online photos. Also consider buying gently used from a private party, where you can save a bunch of money if you shop around and are patient. Plus it's a lower buy-in for your first RV, so if (and likely when) you want a bigger one in a few years, you don't take as big of a hit on depreciation... which is enormous on new RVs (although not quite a bad on trailers vs. motorhomes).
 

Ex-Calif

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The technical answers around here are always correct - eventually but you have a very capable truck, IMO.

If in fact the Wildwood "actual" weight comes in at 4941-5000 empty, I would buy it without a thought and just make sure I kept it on a diet and knew exactly what my traveling weight was in the trailer.

Here's my "caveat" - This is based on a couple weeks vacation a couple times a year. Maybe 1,000 miles from home intermixed with some weekend stuff in the summer at local state parks. I am not suggesting to drive over limit but in this usage I (personally) would be fine to tow near the limit.

OTOH - If I were going to be a full time, liveaboard road warrior I would be looking for a rig with plenty of margin and very easy towing.
 

kaintucky

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Payload used to include a 160# driver (I weighed that at one time, haha) and a full tank of fuel. That changed at some point to payload including a driver, passenger, and fuel... but I can't remember what year. With a 2007 I'm guessing your truck us under the old rules. If you truly end up with a 200# payload cushion, that's probably okay given the smaller trailers you're considering. Although published tongue weights on trailers isn't likely any more accurate that your truck's published payload of 1755#. It depends greatly on how the trailer is optioned, how much weight you have inside it, where those items are stored. All of which will increase the tongue weight at a 10-15% ratio of the total trailer weight.

There are pretty major differences between the two trailers you mentioned above, primarily the max rated weight of 4800# (17 footer) vs. almost 7700# (23 footer). That's a big difference, as is the 6' additional length on the bigger trailer. There's a lot of middle ground in there depending on the features you want, and I'd say don't lock yourself into a year/make/model of trailer just yet. I realize there are some COVID restrictions still ongoing, but get out there (as much as possible) and get inside some trailers and look around. See how they actually "feel" with various sizes and floorplans, which doesn't always come across with online photos. Also consider buying gently used from a private party, where you can save a bunch of money if you shop around and are patient. Plus it's a lower buy-in for your first RV, so if (and likely when) you want a bigger one in a few years, you don't take as big of a hit on depreciation... which is enormous on new RVs (although not quite a bad on trailers vs. motorhomes).
I've read over my manual to see if I could determine if it included a driver and fuel and can only find this: "Maximum trailer weight is calculated assuming only the driver is in the tow vehicle and it has all the required trailering equipment." (page 451)

Appreciate the guidance as well, we've been to several dealerships and looked at many trailers (used & new). I realize the 2 units are quite different and really we'd be ok with either. My concern with the smaller of the 2 is the lack of storage and that it is a single axle. The Wildwood model we're looking at actually is a used unit as well, which is something I like as well because of the astronomical depreciation that happens when new things leave the lot.
 
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kaintucky

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Minnesota
The technical answers around here are always correct - eventually but you have a very capable truck, IMO.

If in fact the Wildwood "actual" weight comes in at 4941-5000 empty, I would buy it without a thought and just make sure I kept it on a diet and knew exactly what my traveling weight was in the trailer.

Here's my "caveat" - This is based on a couple weeks vacation a couple times a year. Maybe 1,000 miles from home intermixed with some weekend stuff in the summer at local state parks. I am not suggesting to drive over limit but in this usage I (personally) would be fine to tow near the limit.

OTOH - If I were going to be a full time, liveaboard road warrior I would be looking for a rig with plenty of margin and very easy towing.
Thank you! We won't be going full time so not a concern there. First year I'd say we'd take one trip that's about 250 miles away (one-way) the rest would be within 90 miles. After that I'm thinking maximum we'd go with this would be 550 miles (one-way). We live in the midwest so that also means we wouldn't be taking this over any mountain ranges.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The tow rating for a 2007 allows for a driver a 70 kg (154 lb) driver. The payload does not. I'm pretty sure if you look on that tire placard on the door post, it will say that the cargo capacity includes all occupants and cargo. Fuel and fluids are not part of cargo; they are counted in the UVW or curb weight).

The 2007 GMC Silverado/Sierra Towing Guide states:
PAYLOAD WEIGHT
The weight carried by the vehicle, including the driver, passengers and cargo,
plus options or aftermarket equipment such as boxliners, hitches or fifth wheels.
It should not exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) minus the Curb Weight.

For safe towing, the tongue weight of an RV trailer MUST be at least 10% of the actual loaded weight. Until you have a scaled weight that says less, assume it is 10% of the trailer GVWR. That weight, plus the weight of the trailer hitch itself, is carried by the truck and thus part of its cargo.

Ignore the hitch (tongue) weight shown in RV brochures or website - they are typically a pipe dream of some marketing guy, based on assumptions that have no real world validity. Ditto for the UVW shown there - almost always low than any actual trailer you may buy. You can trust the weights shown on each individual trailer's federal weight placard (sticker) - it is required by law to be an actual scaled weight and accurate to within 100 lbs.
 
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kaintucky

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Thanks @Gary RV_Wizard!

I appreciate the advice everyone has given on here and it's helped me learn a ton about how payloads and weight ratings are computed. Also learned that this is a very helpful forum! But I need some help answering my original question with this new information as well.

Being a first time travel trailer owner and tower is the lighter single axle trailer (Salem FSX or similar) or the heavier tandem axle trailer (Wildwood or similar) a smarter way to go?
 

Rob&Deryl

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Spend a few hours browsing on RVTrader. When you fin some floor plans you like, filter the search. This will give you a good idea of pricing and availability of units and where they are. i felt happy to find the one I wanted for the price I wanted only an 8hr drive away.
 

scottydl

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Being a first time travel trailer owner and tower is the lighter single axle trailer (Salem FSX or similar) or the heavier tandem axle trailer (Wildwood or similar) a smarter way to go?

It's really personal preference. I'd shop for the floorplan that meets your needs the best, regardless of axle count. You have experience with towing so I dont see any particular concern with either, as long as your truck can handle the weights.

For context, my first RV was a 35' Class A motorhome. And our second/current is a 32' (35' with tongue) travel trailer... with me have no real prior towing experience at the time, except occasionally pulling our dollied car behind the motorhome. So I'm not gonna be someone who tells you "go small" just because it's your first RV. ;)
 

kaintucky

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@scottydl I completely understand and my personal preference would be to get the larger trailer as it has way more storage. But I'm not certain if I should based on the statistics of the trailer and my vehicle given in the original post. So if you'd share your opinion on whether that trailer is too much for my vehicle I'd appreciate it.
 

scottydl

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And here's another "it depends" ... our favorite answer. :) The determining factor is how much stuff you put in the 23' trailer. You can't fully load it to its max (7694#) or you'll be exceeding the 7500# limit of your truck. But if that trailer truly has an empty weight around 5000# with over 2500# of CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity), that's a lot of wiggle room for you to stay within specs of your truck. You could have a 6000# loaded trailer, 1000# of people/gear/hitch in & on the truck, and still have 500# to spare. The only way you'll ever know the trailer's loaded weight is to pull it across a truck scale once you own it.

Is it likely your trailer will weigh that far below its GVWR? It's certainly doable. I'll use my own trailer again as an example. Published empty weight is 7900#, GVWR is in the 11,000# range. Fully loaded for vacation travel for our family of 5, it scale-weighed around 9500#. So it hasn't been anywhere close to its max rating, which was good for my prior tow vehicle (a Suburban C2500) that had a 10,000# max tow rating. I've since upgraded my tow vehicle substantially to a 1-ton diesel dually pickup, so I don't have that problem anymore. ;)
 

Ex-Calif

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I'm with Scotty. You clearly are leaning towards the bigger trailer. So far the only caveat is get the actual weight of that trailer after you buy it by getting it on a scale. There is no conceivable way it is going to exceed you truck capacity empty.

Then all you need to do is make sure you keep the trailer below 7500# and don't go crazy loading the truck.

Not sure what the concern is TBH. If it is something like, "I like to throw whatever I want into the truck and trailer" that won't happen with any vehicle. You need to have an idea of your traveling weight for anything.

I loaded my RV up ready for travel. Full fuel, full propane, 1/2 water and fully stocked. Put the bike trailer and bike on the back and weighed it. Traveling weight comes in around 17k pounds against a 19.5k limit.
 

kaintucky

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Thanks @scottydl & @Ex-Calif. Yes I would definitely like the bigger trailer.

As a newbie to trailering larger weights I just got confused by all the specs. I do plan on packing light and ensuring I don't exceed weights, so just throwing whatever I want in the truck/trailer never occurred to me. I know I need to be cognizant of what I put in each.
 

scottydl

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@kaintucky You may not realize this now, but you're already WAY ahead of the curve by even asking these questions. So I really think you'll be fine, because you have these issues in mind and will be paying attention as you go.

Unfortunately a lot of new (and even some veteran) RV owners just pack up with "whatever" and go. They never pay any attention to weights of their rigs, or tire capacities and proper inflation pressure... probably one root cause behind many of the trailers you see on the roadside with tire blowouts, for instance. (Not always, as I've suffered a highway-speed blowout and I know I had done everything right.) But if you were to walk around the average campground and randomly ask RV owners what their rigs actually weigh, and whether their tires have the proper PSI... many would have no idea.

And yeah, proper tire inflation (since I just brought it up) will be another factor to consider once you have your setup in place. ;)
 

kaintucky

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@scottydl thanks for the vote of confidence!

Yup, checking all the critical components is something I'm very familiar with. Even on my daily driver I do those types of things (oil, trans/brake/pwr st fluids, tire pressure, tread depth & wear). Just a regular part of maintenance to ensure longevity of investment and safety.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Even for the trailering pros, "stuff" accumulates. The rig that is nicely within design limits on Day 1 gets heavier as it gets older (sound familiar?), usually a few lbs at a time. Saying you won't just throw something in is naive, cause you will likely have good reason for each addition. A tool you needed last trip and didn't have, and that nice BBQ grill you got for your birthday. It just replaces the old one, right? And a half dozen last minute things on day of departure, when you don't have time to weigh or trade for something else. Gonna tell the wife she can't bring that new air fryer?

I'm not telling you your plan is doomed, but warning you that the vigilance is a lot tougher than you probably think. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. :oops:
 

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