Researching A Travel Trailer For Full-Time RV Living In The Desert

Kara and I thought that we could just start looking based on the dimensions of the travel trailer we wanted.

Unfortunately, we were limited to the towing power of our travel trailer tow vehicle. So, based on that, we began to narrow down the choices for a sensible travel trailer.

Here are the types of travel trailers we considered:

  • Classes A (bus-style motorhome), B (van conversion), and C (large camper on a van chassis) were never a serious consideration for full-time living due to their high cost, poor safety, and unacceptable repair situations (example: leaving our home on wheels at a mechanic’s shop forcing us into a motel room with pets).
  • Fifth Wheel Travel Trailer
  • Bumper-Pull Travel Trailer
  • Bumper-Pull Toy Hauler Travel Trailer

Now you might think that the first decision would be length. However, before we could determine length, a few more decisions needed to be made first… such as;

Do we want a bumper pull trailer or a fifth wheel trailer?

We chose bumper pull. Why?

Fifth wheels are too close to the tow capacity limits of our tow vehicle. Not to mention, fifth wheels couple to a hitch located in the truck bed.

For us, this meant that we would’ve had to get rid of our camper shell and most of the storage area in the bed.

Using the truck bed as a garage to store a stinky generator, 55-gallon freshwater barrel, as well as other gear under lock and key was more important.

How many axles do we want?

Two. Why?

Not only can two axles/four tires handle more weight, they distribute weight evenly allowing for a steadier and safer driving experience.

Plus, we didn’t want our home to get a blowout on a single axle.

So, now that we know the towing power of our tow vehicle, which type of trailer we want, and how many axles/tires we want… it was clear that we need to search for a travel trailer between 21 and 28 feet.

And then focus on finding one that was light-weight.

Here’s what we found in the way of travel trailer construction materials:

  • “Stick-n-Tin” (oldest method of aluminum over a wood frame)
  • “Laminate” (fiberglass over a wood frame)
  • “Modern Laminate” (fiberglass over an aluminum frame)
  • “All Aluminum” (with some exceptions such as interior walls)

We chose “All Aluminum.” Why?

It’s lighter and stronger than the others, it will last longer, and will hold its resale value better.

After all, we decided that the best type of travel trailer for us was indeed… the bumper-pull toy hauler travel trailer.

Toy haulers are basically open-concept living spaces with multi-purpose utility.

Most people use them to haul all-terrain vehicles and personal watercraft.

But, we liked the open space and would use much of it for storage.

Especially since we could remove furniture such as; the kitchen table, benches, and couches.

In regards to slide-outs, Kara and I chose to avoid them despite how popular they are among RVers.

Why? Well, from what we read… the following issues were a deal breaker:

  • Pet hazard for us because we have 2 cats and now a puppy.
  • They add lots of weight in exchange for space.
  • Can possibly increase insurance rates.
  • Suck up temporary floor storage when retracted.
  • Weakens over structure due to fact that beams need to be removed.
  • If a crash occurs, photos show slide-outs literally pop out along with anything that can fit through the gaping hole(s).
  • Mechanical maintenance due to the fact that slide-outs operate with gears, tracks, hydraulics, etc.

In our opinion, slide-outs are just too much of a sacrifice for the extra space.

Here are our tow vehicle weight limits according to the Ford Towing Guide:

  • Front GAWR 3,750 lbs
  • Rear GAWR 3,850 lbs
  • GVWR 7,200 lbs
  • GCVWR 15,500 lbs

Weight Rating Terms:

  • GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum allowable weight of the fully-loaded vehicle (including passengers and cargo).
  • GAWR: Gross Combined Weight Rating is the maximum allowable weight of the towing vehicle and the loaded trailer (including passengers and cargo).
  • GCVWR: Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum weight of a vehicle and its attached trailer.
  • Dry Weight: Travel trailer manufacturer’s weight without any passengers, cargo, liquids, or additional accessories or dealer installed options.

Here’s what we’ve decided for our Travel Trailer Purchase:

  • Bumper-pull toy hauler travel trailer
  • 2 axles / 4 wheels
  • Between 21 and 28 feet in length
  • Dry Weight limit of approximately 5,000 lbs
  • All aluminum construction
  • No slide-outs

Kara and I hope this information is helpful for those who are also thinking of acquiring a travel trailer.

Good luck!

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