Camper query*update-we bought one!

rideswithchrist

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
We sold the $300 popup this summer. For an impatient family of 6, popups are a little too much work and we want to make more overnight trips with something we can boondocks or set up in 10, and our kids want their own bed, or at least to share a larger bed with just 2 kids smashed up.
We have a Suburban and want to be able to park next to our house so we want to stay in a lighter/smaller TT.
That being said:rolleyes1 Hubs has his eyes on a Jayco with the double bunk in the back and queen bed at the front, I think it is 29' end to end. Has anyone had issues towing around their campers or staying at campsites/state parks with a larger camper?

I am still leaning toward a hybrid but he won't camp in canvas with bears, so that would leave us limited on where we travel to. What all do you tow and do you feel it is too large/too small?

We will be a cash pay also, so we are not buying a $25K brand-new camper (yet)
 

Stratman50th

Mouseketeer
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
With a family of 6 make sure you buy a camper with enough built in systems to allow you to boondock like you want. Determine how much fresh water you need, grey and black tank holding capacity. Electrical needs are different as well. Best of luck in your search!
Don
 


rideswithchrist

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Great tip, I honestly did not even think of that because we always use hookups, BUT when we want to venture to some National Parks, we will need to think of that stuff!
 
  • loves to dive

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 21, 2011
    We have a 35 ft. Keystone Montana 5th wheel and so far have had no problem staying in State Parks. Fort Wilderness was actually more challenging because of lack of turning radious in the truck and big trash cans at the end of every site.

    We researched cargo capacity and tank sizes to death when looking. Hubbie did not want to have to even think about it (thus the dually as well). We switched out the battery that came with it and put in 3 deep cycle batteries. Not as expensive at litium but don't need to add water like lead acid. We are able to run the basics (fridge, propane heat if needed, lights, water pump, stove) off these for 3 or 4 days so we can boondock without spending too much on upgrades. We do have a generator for emergencies and to run one AC for a short amount of time if needed and to run that precious microwave and coffee pot if needed. We also have a french press coffee pot so not so important. We also paid cash for ours and bought brand new because we knew we weren't going to upgrade/downgrade or switch out within 10 years. We have considered adding solar but the expense of switching out other things is putting that off. The only thing we would need it for is to be able to possibly run the ceiling fan or fireplace or boondocking longer and it's not worth it for that. Frankly, more than 3 or 4 days without full AC/heat, all the water I want to use is more than enough for me.
     

    bama_ed

    It's kind of fun to do the impossible-Walt Disney
    Joined
    Sep 23, 2004
    National Parks (or anywhere with bears) no canvas. Hard side only.

    I'd say that ol' popup of yours served you well. For six people at your kid's ages, yeah, you've outgrown it (or were about to).

    I'm glad you want to keep making memories with them all.

    So good luck!

    Bama Ed

    PS - we had 3 kids and used our old canvas popup for 10 years. Once kids started in college and leaving the nest, I traded it in for the Aliner I have now. There was that awkard time with 2 kids (canvas wall tent for them) and in a year it will just be me and DW (unless the kids want do work out their own plan if I share the site). So we will stay small and low.
     

    Teamubr

    Formerly racing around the country.
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2010
    Michelle,

    I'm on my 4th camper. Started in a 17ft hybrid, towing it with a V8 Explorer. It was a great combo. Some days I wish I had something so simple (and small). The canvas is an issue. The reason I traded into a 33ft TT was cold weather and canvas don't work well. The poor furnace worked hard, but the bunks were still cold.

    The TT we bought didn't have any slides. It was just barely under the 7200 lb tow rating on the Explorer. It worked, but it wasn't comfortable and I could tell it was slowly killing the Explorer.

    After that, a F250 diesel crewcab came. And so did a bigger camper, a 31ft 5er. The F250 and the 9,000 lb 5er were a great combo. Kept it for 13 years.

    That gave way to the 42 ft, 14,500 lb 5er I have now. I also am on my 3rd diesel Ford truck. The current one is an F350 dually that will pull the neighborhood. The truck and trailer work well together, but it is big. Beyond a lot of people's comfort zones.

    Depending on the age and type of Suburban, a 29ft TT should be a really good combo. Look up the tow ratings for the Suburban and make sure the TT will fit comfortably inside that rating. Remember, your "stuff" (including 4 kids worth) adds up pretty easily. I was shocked how easy it was to put 1,000 lbs of "stuff" in our campers (the TT and 1st 5er had about that much when you filled water tanks, refrigerators and closets with a long weekend of stuff). I didn't weigh the new 5er empty, but I know I have way over 1,000 lbs in it, but it has a 3,000 lb CCC, so I'm still well within GVWR. I did weigh it on the way back from GSP one year and it weighed 14,500. The GVWR is 15,500, so I would guess close to 2,000 lbs of "stuff", including full tanks.

    j
     
  • mickeyfan0805

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 12, 2007
    Michelle - what fun to be looking at something new! Have fun as you explore your options! My only suggestion would be, as @Teamubr said, look carefully at your weights. I will suggest that your major issue is not actually going to be the 'tow rating' of the Suburban. Your issue will be its 'payload.' If it is a relatively recent vehicle, you should have a sticker (often yellow, sometimes white and yellow) on the driver's door jamb. That sticker will have a statement along the lines of 'weight of cargo and occupants not to exceed...' This is the number that will matter. Online tow ratings and payload numbers are useless - this stickers tells you exactly how much weight your truck can carry. In a Suburban, assuming it's a 1500 series, that number is probably in the 1,400-1,600 pound range. From that you need to subtract the weight of your entire family, a WD hitch (likely 75 pounds or so) and any other gear/pets/etc... you carry in or on the truck. What's left after all of that is the amount of tongue weight you can handle (the tongue weight is likely to run somewhere in the 12% range of the loaded trailer).

    As an example, here's how it works for our family of 5...

    Combined weight of family: 750 pounds
    Hitch weight: 75 pounds
    Misc tools/snacks/gear: 25 pounds
    Total weight in/on truck: 850 pounds

    Capacity as listed on sticker: 1,878 pounds
    Remaining capacity for tongue weight: 1,028 pounds

    Actual loaded trailer weight: 8,000 pounds
    Actual tongue weight: 984 pounds

    With all of this added up, then, the total load on truck for our family of 5, with an 8,000 pound trailer, is 1,834 pounds (just 44 under the max). With a sixth person in the family, and a payload that is likely a few hundred pounds lower on the Suburban, you can quickly see how this becomes the limiting factor.
     

    mickeyfan0805

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 12, 2007
    All I can say is you people and bears is funny. Plenty of people up here in Black bear country camp in pop up trailers.
    Very true. That said, I spent a few summers living in a tent at a high adventure scout camp in upstate NY. I shared an oversized family tent with a fellow worker, who left some snacks out after packing to be gone for the weekend. By the morning our tent had two new 'doors' which were both made while I was laying in bed in the tent!
     
  • Sjm9911

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2019
    Thats grizzly country i believe. Big diffrence in bear types. Lol. Ive had the black bears in a tree in a campsite next to mine , not fun with the pop up. The rangers eventually tranquilized them the next day. Some idiot was feeding them.

    Anyway, look around! I got a used TT this year and love it. I loved the pop up also. Keep in mind its a bit harder to tow, and your gas millage will go way down. You are pulling a great big wall behind you! Your suburban , is basicly on a pick up truck platform, do you have a tow package? Tow weights on my gmc very greatly with packages motors and gear ratio. Check that out first. Then look around. Pleanty of real good set ups out there at about 4500-5000 lbs. When looking i found TT with 1 queen and a tripple stagered bunk in the back. Or a hybrid with a double bunk in the middle. So you can have 4 beds right out of the gate. There a bit harder to find, but as i said take tour time and get whats right for you and your family. My kz spree has a twin over full bunk and a king size hard slide out in the back. Its decent size and 4500 lbs.
     

    5kidsmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2013
    We have a hybrid and have avoided grizzly country for that reason. Although now it’s just two of us camping so we can camp without putting out the canvas beds. Not as comfy but doable. We’ve camped at plenty of East and Midwest national parks with no issues. For us a hybrid was the best choice due to our family size but it’s not always practical. Most of our camping now is done within an hour or two of our house in Ohio. When we upgrade eventually we will definitely go with a standard hard side camper or an rv.
     

    tigger92662

    They're more like guidelines than actual rules
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2015
    All I can say is you people and bears is funny.
    Bears and deer are 2 completely different things in relation to where we live, but along those lines.
    Here in the western suburbs of Chicago, the deer population has been steadily increasing.
    I work at a waste water treatment plant covering 20+ acres.
    At least 1/2 dozen times a year, the neighbors call and ask if we've left a gate open somewhere cuz the deer are in their yard. :confused3:rotfl2:
     

    rajak73

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 1, 2002
    Bears and deer are 2 completely different things in relation to where we live, but along those lines.
    Here in the western suburbs of Chicago, the deer population has been steadily increasing.
    I work at a waste water treatment plant covering 20+ acres.
    At least 1/2 dozen times a year, the neighbors call and ask if we've left a gate open somewhere cuz the deer are in their yard. :confused3:rotfl2:
    So they figure you're raising the deer in the WWTP? That would be hilarious!
     

    rideswithchrist

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 7, 2014
    We have a 35 ft. Keystone Montana 5th wheel and so far have had no problem staying in State Parks. Fort Wilderness was actually more challenging because of lack of turning radious in the truck and big trash cans at the end of every site.

    We researched cargo capacity and tank sizes to death when looking. Hubbie did not want to have to even think about it (thus the dually as well). We switched out the battery that came with it and put in 3 deep cycle batteries. Not as expensive at litium but don't need to add water like lead acid. We are able to run the basics (fridge, propane heat if needed, lights, water pump, stove) off these for 3 or 4 days so we can boondock without spending too much on upgrades. We do have a generator for emergencies and to run one AC for a short amount of time if needed and to run that precious microwave and coffee pot if needed. We also have a french press coffee pot so not so important. We also paid cash for ours and bought brand new because we knew we weren't going to upgrade/downgrade or switch out within 10 years. We have considered adding solar but the expense of switching out other things is putting that off. The only thing we would need it for is to be able to possibly run the ceiling fan or fireplace or boondocking longer and it's not worth it for that. Frankly, more than 3 or 4 days without full AC/heat, all the water I want to use is more than enough for me.
    I did not think about piggy backing batteries VS using a generator. It is HOT in Texas, so we would not boondock without A/C except in the fall or winter ha. But I think some of the National Parks outside of Texas would be bearable at night. Great tips.
     

    rideswithchrist

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 7, 2014
    National Parks (or anywhere with bears) no canvas. Hard side only.

    I'd say that ol' popup of yours served you well. For six people at your kid's ages, yeah, you've outgrown it (or were about to).

    I'm glad you want to keep making memories with them all.

    So good luck!

    Bama Ed

    PS - we had 3 kids and used our old canvas popup for 10 years. Once kids started in college and leaving the nest, I traded it in for the Aliner I have now. There was that awkard time with 2 kids (canvas wall tent for them) and in a year it will just be me and DW (unless the kids want do work out their own plan if I share the site). So we will stay small and low.
    It really did us well for 3 years. We sold it to a couple with 2 kids and they have been sending us photos of their interior changes. Pretty cool. We did have to give her our hitch because she had a 3" drop hitch turned over and there was no way we were letting her tow it home like that! Made us happy that another family was getting good use out of it, the even took it to the beach.

    Michelle,

    I'm on my 4th camper. Started in a 17ft hybrid, towing it with a V8 Explorer. It was a great combo. Some days I wish I had something so simple (and small). The canvas is an issue. The reason I traded into a 33ft TT was cold weather and canvas don't work well. The poor furnace worked hard, but the bunks were still cold.

    The TT we bought didn't have any slides. It was just barely under the 7200 lb tow rating on the Explorer. It worked, but it wasn't comfortable and I could tell it was slowly killing the Explorer.

    After that, a F250 diesel crewcab came. And so did a bigger camper, a 31ft 5er. The F250 and the 9,000 lb 5er were a great combo. Kept it for 13 years.

    That gave way to the 42 ft, 14,500 lb 5er I have now. I also am on my 3rd diesel Ford truck. The current one is an F350 dually that will pull the neighborhood. The truck and trailer work well together, but it is big. Beyond a lot of people's comfort zones.

    Depending on the age and type of Suburban, a 29ft TT should be a really good combo. Look up the tow ratings for the Suburban and make sure the TT will fit comfortably inside that rating. Remember, your "stuff" (including 4 kids worth) adds up pretty easily. I was shocked how easy it was to put 1,000 lbs of "stuff" in our campers (the TT and 1st 5er had about that much when you filled water tanks, refrigerators and closets with a long weekend of stuff). I didn't weigh the new 5er empty, but I know I have way over 1,000 lbs in it, but it has a 3,000 lb CCC, so I'm still well within GVWR. I did weigh it on the way back from GSP one year and it weighed 14,500. The GVWR is 15,500, so I would guess close to 2,000 lbs of "stuff", including full tanks.

    j
    Man, 6 people can load up a Suburban huh?! I am thinking about the pain of keeping canvas clean on a hybrid, which is much taller than our pup. Winters have not been so bad here in Texas, but we want to take it out more places and shockingly to us Texans, places drop below 40 in Summer LOL.
     

    rideswithchrist

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 7, 2014
    Michelle - what fun to be looking at something new! Have fun as you explore your options! My only suggestion would be, as @Teamubr said, look carefully at your weights. I will suggest that your major issue is not actually going to be the 'tow rating' of the Suburban. Your issue will be its 'payload.' If it is a relatively recent vehicle, you should have a sticker (often yellow, sometimes white and yellow) on the driver's door jamb. That sticker will have a statement along the lines of 'weight of cargo and occupants not to exceed...' This is the number that will matter. Online tow ratings and payload numbers are useless - this stickers tells you exactly how much weight your truck can carry. In a Suburban, assuming it's a 1500 series, that number is probably in the 1,400-1,600 pound range. From that you need to subtract the weight of your entire family, a WD hitch (likely 75 pounds or so) and any other gear/pets/etc... you carry in or on the truck. What's left after all of that is the amount of tongue weight you can handle (the tongue weight is likely to run somewhere in the 12% range of the loaded trailer).

    As an example, here's how it works for our family of 5...

    Combined weight of family: 750 pounds
    Hitch weight: 75 pounds
    Misc tools/snacks/gear: 25 pounds
    Total weight in/on truck: 850 pounds

    Capacity as listed on sticker: 1,878 pounds
    Remaining capacity for tongue weight: 1,028 pounds

    Actual loaded trailer weight: 8,000 pounds
    Actual tongue weight: 984 pounds

    With all of this added up, then, the total load on truck for our family of 5, with an 8,000 pound trailer, is 1,834 pounds (just 44 under the max). With a sixth person in the family, and a payload that is likely a few hundred pounds lower on the Suburban, you can quickly see how this becomes the limiting factor.
    The sticker on the side says GVWR is 7000, which is a bit lower than I expected. I can't find anything about the payload, so I'll just have to go with 1400 to be safe. (Also, how the heck do you get away with only 25# of misc tools and gear?!!! Our loaded up ice chest is probably 24 pounds and we need our road snacks.)

    All I can say is you people and bears is funny. Plenty of people up here in Black bear country camp in pop up trailers.
    My kids are MESSY! I figure bears are larger than coons, and those coons have wrecked our campsite. The final straw was one that was sitting on top of the ice chest we strapped shut under the bunk my husband and I were on. My hubs woke up and when he looked out of the canvas, that darn thing was growling at him and angry because he could not get into the chest. Beasts!
    We camp in Yellowstone, Glacier and the Tetons, the campgrounds don't allow soft sides
    Actually, only a few campsites don't allow soft sides. We would avoid those even in a TT lol.

    Thats grizzly country i believe. Big diffrence in bear types. Lol. Ive had the black bears in a tree in a campsite next to mine , not fun with the pop up. The rangers eventually tranquilized them the next day. Some idiot was feeding them.

    Anyway, look around! I got a used TT this year and love it. I loved the pop up also. Keep in mind its a bit harder to tow, and your gas millage will go way down. You are pulling a great big wall behind you! Your suburban , is basicly on a pick up truck platform, do you have a tow package? Tow weights on my gmc very greatly with packages motors and gear ratio. Check that out first. Then look around. Pleanty of real good set ups out there at about 4500-5000 lbs. When looking i found TT with 1 queen and a tripple stagered bunk in the back. Or a hybrid with a double bunk in the middle. So you can have 4 beds right out of the gate. There a bit harder to find, but as i said take tour time and get whats right for you and your family. My kz spree has a twin over full bunk and a king size hard slide out in the back. Its decent size and 4500 lbs.
    I think THAT is the combo we are looking for, one with the hard slide out bed. That keeps the camper shorter for putting beside the house, but we all have a bed to sleep on AND can overnight at a Cracker Barrel in a pinch (like that long trip to the Fort we have coming up next year) We have our eye on a couple here locally. Also a Hybrid that has a double bunk on one end and the canvas bed at the other, BUT if we wanted to- hubs and I could sleep on the U-dinette and leave the bed closed. (For bears and Parking lots :p )
     

    rideswithchrist

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 7, 2014
    We have a hybrid and have avoided grizzly country for that reason. Although now it’s just two of us camping so we can camp without putting out the canvas beds. Not as comfy but doable. We’ve camped at plenty of East and Midwest national parks with no issues. For us a hybrid was the best choice due to our family size but it’s not always practical. Most of our camping now is done within an hour or two of our house in Ohio. When we upgrade eventually we will definitely go with a standard hard side camper or an rv.
    That is what I was wondering, would we limit ourselves and want to get "something else" in the next few years because we were going to camp in grizzly country when the kids are older. Choices Choices. And of course the salesman wanted us to get the newest 29' and was very bored showing us a used hybrid.
     



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