What to buy?

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New member
Jan 19, 2006
Let me start off with this forum is fantastic!  Lots of great info and by all accounts thus far, great folks as well!  We have friends who have a travel trailer and we we're hooked from the moment we saw it.  Our biggest question is what to buy?  There are so many brands, many by the same manufacturer, and quite frankly, we're at a loss as to what's good vs what's hype?  We were looking at a couple of 30+ foot long travel trailers with slideouts, namely Rockwood 8318SS and Flagstaff 831BHSS (they appear to be identical save name???)  We have a 2004 Nissan Titan V8 with a tow package rating of 9500 lbs.  I think our vehicle is sufficient to pull either of these but we'd still like to know which brands are the best and why?  Does anyone know where we might find such an "objective" comparison?
Tim n Pam plus 2 kids looking to start a new adventure...
Tim and Pam,

Welcome to our forum. Glad you decided to join us.

Hopefully one of our trailer experts will be along to answer your question.
Hi Tim & Pam,

Welcome to the RV Forum.  I'm sure those in the Framily more acquainted with trailers than I will be addressing your questions soon.  Glad you found us.  What part of the country are you located?

"Best" is a very relative term and the "best" for you is unlikley to be the "best" for me.

Your budget is one major factor and that should be closely tied to your expected usage.  If you will use the RV for extended periods (livingin it for months at a time) or expect to use it every single weekend plus extended vacations, then it is worthwhile to spend money to get quality construction and materials.  If only occasional use, then lesser materials and construction can be quite satisfactory.  One major area is difference in cabinet construction - hardwoods in the upper price ranges but various types of faux wood in the cheaper units. Another is insulation for heat & cold, e.g. dual pane glass and high R-factor insulation in walls, floors and ceiling. Upholstery materials is yet another.

The level of amenities is another factor and once again, the more time you spend in the RV, the more value the amenties. Over a weekend you probably won't miss a big screen tv or surround sound system, but the more the rig is your substitute "home", the more these things are appreciated.  Ditto for things like the size and convenience of the bath layout, storage space (interior and exterior), mattress quality, etc.

RVs are made to look really good on the sales lot. Many buyers don't really look past the glitz - they are awed by the apparent splendor and the idea of a portable home in the woods or at the beach. Work hard to get the rose colored glasses off and look closely at everything. Stand in the shower and swing your arms around. Lay on the bed. Spend 30 minutes planning in your mind where you will put the pots and pans, dishes, coffee pot, etc.  Then figure out where the lawn chairs and folding table will go. What about the golf clubs? Etc etc etc.

Both units at relatively light in weight and should present few problems.

Insofar as quality is concerned, there are two criteria:  full time use and vacation use.  Full timing is living in the trailer for months, even years, at a stretch -- that demands very good quality and puts up the price and weight of the unit.  Vacation use is 4-8 weeks a year maybe in several stretches.  Quality is of less concern, hence my usual mantra on trailers:

A trailer is a simple thing, a box perched on a frame attached to one or two dead axles.  The box is filled with appliances and devices all made by a handfull of manufacturers, like Dometic, Suburban, or Coleman.  These items all carry a manufacturer's warranty and are not guaranteed by the trailer maker.  Most of the wiring is 12VDC.  120VAC wiring is confined to outlets, A/C and the AC-DC converter at the service entry.    Most of what goes wrong with quality control is repairable by any home handyman with a bit of glue and a screwdriver or wrench.  Compared to a trailer, a motorhome is a space-ship wonder of complexity.

If a trailer has the floor plan you like and is well within the tow capacity of your truck, then all you need is to check out the fit and finish of the thing.  Go around wiggling things, opening and shutting doors and operating appliances.  Eyeball the stance of the thing.  Does it sit more or less level with the ground?  Check out the throne room:  go in and have a seat and try shutting the door: stand in the shower with the curtain closed.  Try the beds on for size.  If the thing has a take down sofa, goucho, take it down and try it out.  If you have kids, have them try out their assigned beds.

Lower the stabilizer jacks. Was it fun, or a wrestling match?  Open the awining.  Shut it. 

I want to thank everyone for their replies and excellent info.  Well, we did it just this afternoon, bought a 2006 Rockwood 8318SS.  The dealer was someone we had met at the RV show here in St Louis last weekend.  They threw in a number of goodies to include the "Equal-i-zer" sway control hitch (something everybody says we should have), they also threw in a number of creature comforts as well.  We're going to pick it up in 2 weeks and the dealer has a little program where you camp overnight on their site to ensure we're comfortable with how everything works.  Our girls, ages 7 and 9, are already planning out our summer itinerary so if anyone has any suggestions for the St Louis region (like to start out with some shorter excursions) we're all ears.  Once again, thanks for all the advice and we look forward to meeting some of you in person during our travels.
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