16 foot long kayaks on top of TV - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-23-2014, 08:01 PM   #1
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
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16 foot long kayaks on top of TV

Hi all, my first post here after lots and lots of lurking! I am looking at getting a 13 foot basic model scamp to tow with my Honda Element. Yes, I know it isn't a great tow vehicle - - 1500 pounds max. I will not tow the trailer with anything in it, and we will be getting a very bare bones model. We are tent campers and very light packers who just want a nice dry place to hang out and sleep. All camping equipment will be in the Element.

We are kayakers and whitewater canoeists and have boats in the 12-16.5 foot range. When I have the kayaks on top of the Element, they overhang the back by about 2 feet. They can't be moved much forward of that without compromising their balance on the racks.

So, I am wondering how to handle this while towing a trailer, which I have never done before. Will two feet of overhang interfere with the Scamp while turning? I suspect so, but I can't find information on how to calculate this. I need to know in advance of purchase. If I can't find a way to make it work I will buy a shorter aluminum custom cargo trailer that will ride lower than the kayaks. But I would rather have the standing room and other comforts of the Scamp.

Or, how about a hitch extender of some kind? Thing is, I have a max tongue weight of 150 pounds. Will a hitch extender put me over that on a basic model scamp, towing empty?

Any help so appreciated!
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:18 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1997 16' and 2012 13' Scamp
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I have a 2009 Subaru Forester towing a 13' scamp. I carry a 14.5' on top with no problem. I think I could even carry a longer one. Like you, I was worried about hitting the trailer in turning, but it wasn't a problem. I think I had something like 2" between boat and trailer.

Best,
Ches
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:43 AM   #3
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I don't tow with my Forester anymore. When we did, we took our 16' canoe with us. The 13' Trillium weighs about 1700 lbs with stuff. While the Forester was rated for 2400 lbs, I was very aware of the trailer. Also the Forester has a "hill holder" clutch which made hill starts problematic. Towing with my pick up is a much more comfortable towing experience and the gas mileage is almost the same. Raz
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:47 AM   #4
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Both a hitch extender and carrying kayaks on your roof will impact your carrying capacity of the Honda and the hitch capacity, which you did not mention was? Sometimes you can not bring it all with you, choose smaller boats or bigger tow vehicle. But making do with what you have will not always work with doing something new.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:07 AM   #5
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Thanks all. Glad to know length should not be an issue, although P. Raz, did you feel you were close? Your overhang looks similar to mine.

I know we are close on weight. We are former backpackers, so we are very, very light packers. We will not have anything extra in the trailer except a light comforter and pillows. Our very light kitchen setup will be in the Element (one place setting each, aluminum and plastic, 2 burner propane stove, no sink). We mostly cook on the fire and keep things real simple. With the back seats out of the Element, we can be under the max carrying capacity (including max tongue weight of the trailer, which is 150#, and interior contents of the car and passengers) with the kayaks on the roof if we go minimalist. I am keeping the Element for now, but in a year or two will likely get a Cherokee or Pathfinder or something. Then we can be a little more liberal with the weight. If I find the towing just does not feel right with the E, I can upgrade the TV sooner.

We camp because we enjoy camping, but mostly as a vehicle to our other activiities, one of the primary of which is kayaking. If I can't bring my kayaks, it defeats the purpose. So I do want to be real sure on this length issue before I drop a ton of money. Any more feedback on whether a 2 foot overhang over the back of the very flat-backed Element will be a problem? Is there a way to calculate the distance needed between trailer and vehicle on turns?
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:18 AM   #6
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Tried to post yesterday but it didn't go, so again: If you're minimalistic, have you considered a teardrop camper. We have one, carry two 12' kayaks on a 2003 Honda CRV, Eureka Northern Breeze screen room to sit in. We can heat the screen room with a small electric heater or propane Mr Heater. Can tow our 13' Uhaul camper with the kayaks too, but don't remember the clearance, but different vehicle and trailer than your situation so this info is useless to you.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by VicCT View Post
Thanks all. Glad to know length should not be an issue, although P. Raz, did you feel you were close? Your overhang looks similar to mine.
I had at least a foot. The canoe yoke was a little forward of center between the two cross bars. This gave me a few extra inches. Also my draw bar is a little long, 12" I think. The typical tongue length on any of these trailers is 3 feet.

Here is a thread you might find useful.

Trailer Weights in the Real World
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:38 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info Mary. Yes, I have considered a teardrop. They are just a little too small for my three primary goals. I want a place to sleep, a place to comfortably sit and hang out and play cards if it is raining/cold, and space for a portable toilet for nighttime girl use (my man can, and will, step outside, lol). I would prefer to be able to stand up in at least part of the trailer. And I would prefer to have a bunk option separate from the main bed so that I can go away with a friend for the weekend and not share a bed. I was very interested in the Aliner Scout, but it seems they leak a lot, so that is out. If you have any other suggestions similar to that, I am very open to them.

My other backup plan is a custom cargo trailer built to suit, but at a height equivalent to, or slightly shorter than, the Element. Won't be able to stand fully, and in order to get under tongue weight will have to go super light aluminum and have an even more minimalist interior - - tongue weight on cargos seems heavier than the Scamp. Having Worthington work up a quote for me, but I think it is going to be pricier than the Scamp, and not as "homey" inside. Plus, we are storing outdoors, so aluminum is not ideal - - we do get some hail sometimes.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:56 AM   #9
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Thanks Raz. I have read that thread. I don't think most of those weights represent the way we camp at all. We will not use the water tanks, and might even remove them if I feel they can be easily put back on if we decide to sell. We will not carry propane in the summer when we are kayaking, only in the off season for heat. Again, we will carry almost nothing in the trailer. Most of the weights on that thread were fully packed, and in a way that we don't ever pack. I will only do this if I am under tow capacity and hitch capacity and total vehicle carrying capacity. I know how we travel, and am pretty sure we can comfortably accomplish that. If it turns out we can't and I find I don't have enough stuff with me to make me comfortable, I will upgrade my tow vehicle. I am not interested in taking any risk by exceeding those things, both risk to life and limb and risk of liability when my insurance refuses to cover me. :-)
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:23 AM   #10
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Carrying a single canoe or kayak on the center of the roof of your tow vehicle will allow you to carry a slightly longer boat than if you were carrying two boats positioned side by side. The major issue arises when turning, as at that time, the front corner of the trailer comes closer to the back corner of your tow vehicle and is more likely to hit one of your boats if the boat is not positioned along the centreline of your vehicle. When carrying a single boat positioned along the vehicle centerline, turning corners will not significantly affect the clearance between your boat and the trailer.
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:27 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by VicCT View Post
Thanks Raz. I have read that thread. I don't think most of those weights represent the way we camp at all. We will not use the water tanks, and might even remove them if I feel they can be easily put back on if we decide to sell. We will not carry propane in the summer when we are kayaking, only in the off season for heat. Again, we will carry almost nothing in the trailer. Most of the weights on that thread were fully packed, and in a way that we don't ever pack. I will only do this if I am under tow capacity and hitch capacity and total vehicle carrying capacity. I know how we travel, and am pretty sure we can comfortably accomplish that. If it turns out we can't and I find I don't have enough stuff with me to make me comfortable, I will upgrade my tow vehicle. I am not interested in taking any risk by exceeding those things, both risk to life and limb and risk of liability when my insurance refuses to cover me. :-)
I'd nail together a couple of 2x4s to make a stick as long as your longest canoe/kayak and strap it to the TV to simulate that, then go to U-haul or a trailer dealer and see what the distance actually will be. You may get away with a small hitch extender of 6 inch or so if the trailer is too close for comfort. Since the ball is the pivot point I think the closer to the bow/stern the trailer will be is when traveling in a straight line.

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Old 01-24-2014, 08:30 AM   #12
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A 6" hitch extender will reduce his hitch capacity to a point below the weight of the Scamp.
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:49 AM   #13
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Here's a handy calculator page for the use of extensions and towing in general:

Bill's TC Hitch Extension Calculator

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Old 01-24-2014, 09:03 AM   #14
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If your max hitch weight is 150 lbs, you can ferget any thoughts about a hitch extender. In fact, Scamps tend to get a little hitch heavy and I would bet that you won't be able to stay under that 150 lbs anyway. BTW: Balancing to reduce hitch weight isn't that good an idea.

Where I in your situation, I would opt to buy a used pop-up tent trailer that weighs about 1000 lbs and use that until you get a bigger TV.

The Starcraft 14 I rebuilt for my son weighs 900 lbs ready to go with about 110 lbs hitch weight and is more than big enough for several peeps and friends. Here's what it looks like: Robert Miller's (advocateone)'s Library | Photobucket
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