No experience towing a camper - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-18-2020, 07:13 PM   #1
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No experience towing a camper

Hello,

My wife and I are considering purchasing a fiberglass camper, probably 21 ft or larger. We would also need to purchase a towing vehicle.

I'd be interested in experiencing what it is like to drive a camper before we plunk down any money on one, just to make sure we like the driving experience.

Does anyone have a suggestion for how one might go about this, such as at dealership, rental, etc.

Thanks
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:10 PM   #2
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If you have a vehicle with a hitch you can rent a U-Haul trailer and practice. If you don’t, they might have a pickup with a hitch you could rent also. I’d recommend a single axle box trailer to start with, them maybe a larger tandem axle trailer that more closely approximates the size trailer you’re looking to buy (assuming your practice vehicle can pull it).

First time out recruit a friend who has towed before and start in an empty parking lot. Definitely a learning curve, especially backing, but a good coach will teach you little tricks to make it easier.

One thing you can do even before trying to pull a trailer is to flip up the rear view mirror In your daily driver and get used to using side mirrors only.
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:26 PM   #3
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Great suggestions.

Thanks Jon
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:34 PM   #4
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Google RV rental. There are owners and rental firms all over USA. You will need to either rent a motorhome or have your own tow vehicle. Even if your current vehicle is on the small side, you could rent a small camper.

RVShare.com is just one option.
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:31 AM   #5
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My wife and I were encouraged to be very patient with each other during our initial backing up, setting up, and taking down forays. It's certainly within the bounds of "normal" to see an argument or 10 getting triggered by often quite stressful learning curve events. But do it anyway! It's worth it. It feels so good to acquire camper competence.
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Old 09-19-2020, 10:05 AM   #6
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Hi Bill. I followed up on your suggestion and found we can rent a truck that is set up for towing and a good Outdoorsy was a great website for local camper rentals. Thanks!
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Old 09-19-2020, 10:06 AM   #7
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John,

Thanks for sharing your experience and helping me to be prepared.
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Old 09-19-2020, 10:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
If you have a vehicle with a hitch you can rent a U-Haul trailer and practice. If you donít, they might have a pickup with a hitch you could rent also. Iíd recommend a single axle box trailer to start with, them maybe a larger tandem axle trailer that more closely approximates the size trailer youíre looking to buy (assuming your practice vehicle can pull it).

First time out recruit a friend who has towed before and start in an empty parking lot. Definitely a learning curve, especially backing, but a good coach will teach you little tricks to make it easier.

One thing you can do even before trying to pull a trailer is to flip up the rear view mirror In your daily driver and get used to using side mirrors only.
This is very good advice. ^^^^^^

By renting a relatively small utility trailer, and not making it harder than it needs to be, by being nervous, you'll quickly see that simply towing something is no big deal. You'll simply allow more space while merging, make slightly wider turns to keep the trailer on the road, and allow for longer stopping distances. By towing a rental utility trailer you significantly reduce the stress, and eliminate the chance of damaging your own travel trailer.

When it's time to practice backing up, take your time, settle down. When backing, if you see it in your right side mirror, turn right. If in the left mirror, turn left. Go slow. If you turn sharper than the trailer is turning, it will straighten out. If it turns too sharp, pull forward a bit to straighten it out. With some practice, you can direct it to wherever you want to go. Stay calm. Go slow.

Remember, if you see it in the right mirror, turn right, etc. If it turns too sharp, pull forward just a bit to straighten it, and try again.
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Old 09-19-2020, 01:08 PM   #9
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" just to make sure we like the driving experience."

ROTFL

The towing "experience" is personal. What bothers you may not bother the next guy. Good recommendations above (ESPECIALLY the part about starting SLOW!). LOTS of derelict shopping centers with BIG empty parking lots. Just be careful to avoid the light posts! Larger RV rallies often have RV Driving Schools. An hour or three with a Professional Instructor can build confidence and be a great investment (of course, you'll have to wait until it's safe to travel again for there to BE RV rallies). If you need both a travel trailer and a tow vehicle, BUY THE TRAILER FIRST! That way, you'll know EXACTLY how much capacity you need to SAFELY tow the trailer you bought. RV Boot Camp is a GREAT investment in your RV education. RV Boot Camp graduates are smarter RV buyers and, safer RVers. Escapees RV Club, FMCA, RVSEF and RV~Dreams come quickly to mind as providers of this important education. Again, you'll have to wait until it's safe to gather to be able to attend an RVBC.
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Old 09-19-2020, 01:18 PM   #10
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Fiberglass larger than 21 feet probably means a Bigfoot 25 footer. those are big heavy trailers, and pretty much require a Ford F250 SuperDuty, or CHevy/GMC/Dodge 2500 to tow. Those are big heavy trucks.

Escape has announced plans for a 23 foot, but its not out yet, and I'm not sure its GVW. My Escape 21 has a 4500 lb GVW, and the newer E21's are 5000 lbs.

longer trailers are a lot harder to back up, and to make U turns and such, as well as difficult to park in a supermarket or restaurant parking lot if said lot doesn't have big truck/RV pullthrough parking designated. I tow my E21 with a F250 longbed, the combined length of the rig is 42 feet.
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Old 09-19-2020, 01:31 PM   #11
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"longer trailers are a lot harder to back up"

I have to disagree on this. I've found SHORT trailers turn VERY quickly and, many new drivers find themselves "behind the curve" when backing a short trailer. I can agree that U-Turns and parking in public lots require more space. I generally park my rig in the "hinterlands" of a parking lot and walk the extra distance to the store / business.
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Old 09-19-2020, 01:38 PM   #12
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I've pulled into Safeway parking lots when on the road where the whole lot is full, and worse, there are no 'pull through' spaces, there's islands between the facing spaces.

my backing up issue is compounded by my truck (8 ft long bed plus extended cab) having a very long wheelbase and poor turning radius (this is a common Ford Superduty problem) When I towed a hobie cat with a Volvo 240, I could back up around figure 8's

If you're sticking with the interstates and truck stops and fast food / diner kind of restaurants on the road, there's usually parking for RVs and big rigs. If, like us, you like to explore small towns and go to small local kinda places, its more challenging.
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Old 09-19-2020, 01:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyGuy View Post
"longer trailers are a lot harder to back up"

I have to disagree on this. I've found SHORT trailers turn VERY quickly and, many new drivers find themselves "behind the curve" when backing a short trailer. I can agree that U-Turns and parking in public lots require more space. I generally park my rig in the "hinterlands" of a parking lot and walk the extra distance to the store / business.
When in the Army, I backed up a few semi-trailers and they definitely do not swing, i.e., jackknife not nearly as quickly as any short fiberglass trailer I have towed. They are far easier to keep them straight backing up. That being said, however, I would also agree that length makes any trailer more difficult to maneuver in any ďtightĒ spaces, including fuel stations.
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Old 09-19-2020, 02:06 PM   #14
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Great advice - took the words right out of my mouth. Could I add two more suggestions 1) have someone train your 'swamper' in the basic hand signals in getting a trailer into the right spot with the least amount of anxiety and shouting. I usually spend half a minute before I start backing up explaining to the swamper exact where I want to go and then both of you take a deep breath and away you go.
#2 for clarity it sounds like what you want help with is a trailer - not a 'camper'. Customarily a camper is a truck mounted removable unit. It's picky but when you're reserving a parking spot in an RV park it will cause confusing. If you're towing it then you have a trailer behind you.
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Old 09-19-2020, 03:18 PM   #15
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IMHO, the most experienced backer needs to be outside giving directions, and the inexperienced backer needs to be inside the vehicle, driving with those directions.

It took us decades to learn this, and it has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

The experienced person needs to give crystal clear directions. "Hand on the bottom of the wheel, turn it right. Hard right. STOP." etc.
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Old 09-19-2020, 04:23 PM   #16
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In theory you're 100% correct. But when I see some of the rig drivers backing into RV Parks I can pretty much guarantee they're got going to reverse roles. It's a 'Man Job' to do the driving!
Some of us no longer categorize certain chores as 'blue' jobs and 'pink' jobs. Suspect you and I are in that camp!
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Old 09-19-2020, 04:47 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
IMHO, the most experienced backer needs to be outside giving directions, and the inexperienced backer needs to be inside the vehicle, driving with those directions.

Well, my wife is certainly inexperienced. No driver license.
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Old 09-19-2020, 04:51 PM   #18
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Do some on line you tube videos to get some driving hints. Everyone started as you did.just takes time and a while to learn to work together.
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:53 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by burrorojo View Post
In theory you're 100% correct. But when I see some of the rig drivers backing into RV Parks I can pretty much guarantee they're got going to reverse roles. It's a 'Man Job' to do the driving!
Some of us no longer categorize certain chores as 'blue' jobs and 'pink' jobs. Suspect you and I are in that camp!
Some women are better backers than men. My husband can't back up our 17' Casita at all. He jack knifes it every time. He never could back up our 21' 5th wheel either. I can back our Casita into our 60' long garage with stuff on both sides and put it within 6 inches of where it needs to be. He tells me where I'm at in a parking space when camping. He also doesn't do much driving. He will to give me a break but he'd rather not drive and won't drive through a city. He stops outside the city and makes me drive. So it is not a 'Man Job' for the man to drive.
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Old 09-19-2020, 11:01 PM   #20
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Well, we know he's not dumb.
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