Low weight fiberglass RVs - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-08-2018, 08:17 PM   #1
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Name: Debra
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Low weight fiberglass RVs

Hi. I was looking at buying a Casita but was advised by the company that I should get a towing vehicle with a 5,000 pound capacity. My towing vehicle will be my main means of transport so I prefer to have an smaller SUV of some type. (I will trade in my current car for a new vehicle.) I want to keep life simple and economical with one vehicle. Also I have never towed a trailer before so find that a bit daunting. I want to make it easy for myself as a newbie.

Can you suggest fiberglass RVs that might be towable by an SUV rated for 3500 pounds? (I am also researching this.) I would prefer to stay around 16 feet for trailer length and have a toilet/shower/kitchen set up. Should I be looking at another type of RV rather than fiberglass that might weigh less? I will want to travel through mountainous areas so want to make sure I have an engine and towing vehicle with some power. Thanks for any advice or experience you have with your trailers and towing vehicles.
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:43 PM   #2
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Generally a 16' trailer is 3500# towable if it's not heavily optioned and you travel light. Tow ratings assume 2 passengers and minimal cargo. Both Scamp and Casita make 16' models in various layouts. You will not be hurrying up mountain grades.

On the whole, though, I think a 5000# rating would be more comfortable and give more satisfactory service if you plan to tow a lot of miles. It represents the difference between just adequate and having some margin to spare. Many mid-sized SUV's have a 5000# rating- Highlander, Pilot, Santa Fe, Explorer...- and make decent daily drivers.

Scamp also makes a 13' model with a full wet bath. That would be comfortably towable by a 3500# vehicle. It's a great layout for one person, but some find it tight for two. Casita used to make a 13' model (there's one listed for sale right now), but they discontinued it a couple of years ago.

I know you'll get some varied opinions on this topic. Take this as my opinion only.
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:27 PM   #3
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Many thanks Jon. I have been looking at the Scamp also. I really appreciate your advice.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:33 PM   #4
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I have a 2008 RAV4 with 3,500 lb. tow rating for my 17B Escape.
Starting over, I'd have a Highlander ( probably ) with a 5,000 lb. tow rating. I'd probably have an Escape 19 too.
I think there would be little difference in gas mileage or other non-towing factors between the two vehicles. On the other hand, I don't want to park a Ford F150 or Excursion at the local mall.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:49 PM   #5
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Debbie,

One way to look at this is to consider a heavier tow vehicle as more capable in terms of minimizing the potential "tail wags dog" effect of a trailer on the tow vehicle. In other words, if a light tow vehicle and a heavy trailer are a poor combination, then the further you move along the spectrum towards a relatively heavy tow vehicle and a relatively light trailer, the more stable and easy to tow the combination becomes.

If they are in your budget, either an Audi Q5 or a Hyundai Santa Fe would work well with a Casita 17 Deluxe, as one example of a "heavier" trailer. I don't know if these vehicles would be too large for your taste, but they would offer the ability to easily tow a heavier, more highly optioned trailer (think air conditioning, bath and maybe some more luggage or sports gear and/or the ability to handle mountain grades at higher speeds, etc.)

There's lots of options, including many lighter trailer-and-tow-vehicle combinations. The important thing is to get a good match between the tow-er and the tow-ed. It looks like you are asking the right questions and taking the right steps to look at different trailers and learn what might work well for you. Keep an open mind and enjoy the process.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:12 PM   #6
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Thanks for the good advice and encouragement that I am on the right track. It is a bit overwhelming!
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:16 PM   #7
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Thanks Glenn. I have to check out some of these towing vehicles. I have never been much of a car person, though I love my Subaru. They are coming out with an SUV in the summer but it seemed bigger than I wanted. It will have a 5,000 towing capacity, but will be big...seating 8! More than I need for my non-towing use.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:36 PM   #8
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Still haven't seen what the max tongue weight on that new Subaru will be. The other SUVs in their line all have very low max weight. Ten to 15 per cent of the trailer weight is recommended as a tongue weight. But, that's 350 lbs for a 3,500 lb trailer, and Subaru is limited to 200 lbs ( so far ).
Seems, whatever you choose, you will get stuck with extra seats you don't need.
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:48 AM   #9
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many of these vehicles that have a 3500 lb trailer max with 350 lb tongue weight also only have 1000 lbs total payload. you have to subtract that tongue weight, now you're at 650 lbs. now subtract your driver and passenger, any luggage in the car and....

also note, that a 3500 lb actual weight trailer only has 350 lb tongue weight if its /very/ carefully loaded. its real easy to be closer to 500 lbs on the tongue with Casita's and such.
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Old 03-09-2018, 05:12 AM   #10
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Debbie, I encourage you to check out the thread Trailer Weights in the Real World. Post #297 links to a spreadsheet you can download and sort by manufacturer and model. With a couple of exceptions, these are all actual scaled weights with the trailers fully loaded for travel.

It will give you a better idea of what to expect, weight-wise. It gives tongue weights as well as total trailer weights. As John says, that can often be the limiting factor, especially with a Casita 17.
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Old 03-09-2018, 10:26 AM   #11
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IMHO, nothing outweighs safety when driving and towing a RV. Fiberglass is most likely the lightest and 5k lbs towing capacity, or greater, is the only option to provide a margin of safety and enough power to make your towing experience pleasurable.

Many vehicles out there, get the best MPG you can and 5k lbs towing capacity.

IF you agree that a 13ft Scamp is all you need AND that you will always stay on flat land then 3500 lb tow rating MAY be ok.

Many opinions and yours may be different.

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Old 03-09-2018, 10:28 AM   #12
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All of the above is good information. It sounds like you are buying a new Casita. If so you will be picking it up in Rice, TX. If you are buying used, who knows where you will be first hitching up.

You stated you have never towed a trailer. That sort of implies you have also never backed up a trailer. Or pulled into a badly situated gas station with trailer in tow.

You really should practice first.

What ever vehicle you buy and put a hitch on, before you go to pick up your trailer, borrow or rent a trailer about the same length and width as the Casita you plan on buying. At least rent a U-haul trailer the same size as the Casita. Then drive it around for a day or a couple of days. Back it up. Try to back into a specific spot, preferably do this in a large empty parking lot. Practice until you can actually do it. Make some right and left turns while going forward.

Let me repeat: You must practice first.

You MUST practice before you take off with the trailer for the first time.

There is no place at Rice for you to practice, there is no room.

Please, I beg of you, practice before you first pick up your trailer.
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Old 03-09-2018, 11:22 AM   #13
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OK, my heart has resumed beating.

Whatever you buy make sure it has good BIG brakes.

Be sure it has a towing package with a 7 pin connector in the back. If not you will have to have it installed.

Then you will need a brake controller. Tekonsha is a good one but there are others.

Small vehicle recommendations are fine for people that are experienced. Get the biggest vehicle you can afford, with a towing packing already installed.
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Old 03-09-2018, 02:05 PM   #14
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Its no secret how to get a lighter weight trailer. First, think smaller, like the 13 footers. Secondly, think minimal options and features. Refrigerator, bathroom, furnace, air conditioning, awning, all add weight. See the weights in the real world for realistic data.

Of course, many of us, me included, want it all! All the options and features, big bed, big dinette, can tow with anything, etc. Figure out the trailer that meets your needs FIRST, then get the vehicle that can tow it readily.

I've had marginal tow vehicle situations in the past, won't do it again! Camping is supposed to be fun. Worrying about the next hill, or whether you have enough stopping power going down the other side of that hill or whatever.

Practice is important. Realize the trailer will likely be wider than your car. And going around corners takes a different approach than just driving your car solo. And backing up is another challenge. All can be mastered with some practice! Vehicles with backup cameras help! On my truck, it turns out the backup camera is centered on the hitch. So hooking up is so much easier than the "old" days.

If there is a general trend, people overestimate the towing capability of their vehicle AND underestimate the weight of their trailer. Basing a decision on what another person posts on the internet (including me) is unwise! Do you own research. Don't trust the car dealers either. Many will tell you almost anything to sell you their vehicles. RV dealers do the same. Kudos to Casita for telling you the real truth!


Once you camp for a while, do not be surprised if you learn you need something different. We have had campers for a long time (bigger ones). But we re-entered the RV lifestyle with a 17 foot Casita. Then we went to a molded trailer rally, toured a 19 foot Escape, and realized we had made a mistake. Life is too short to be stuck with mistakes. So we sold the Casita and bought the Escape and are MUCH happier! But others are plenty happy with a 13 foot Scamp!

This is one reason to have room to spare on your tow vehicle. If you have the lowest rated TV that will still pull your first trailer, you WILL be selling it as soon as you get that common RV illness, "two foot itis". Its incurable. I advise people to get a tow vehicle that will handle the next size up in trailer.

While molded trailers hold their value well (so you can unwind a mistake pretty cheaply), tow vehicles depreciate quickly. So an upgrade of TV could get pretty expensive.
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