Towing 16 Ft Scamp with Minivan or Subaru Outback - Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-19-2021, 07:55 AM   #1
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Towing 16 Ft Scamp with Minivan or Subaru Outback

I just put my deposit down for the 16ft layout 4 Scamp - will be my first camper so I have much to learn! Now just have to wait 20 months It looks like my 2017 Chrysler Pacifica should be able to tow the Scamp just fine. I plan on using the anti sway bar, but doesn't look like I'll need a WDH. I plan to mostly camp in established campgrounds for 1-3 nights at a time. Looks like the main downside to towing with a minivan is low clearance (hitch dragging) and difficulty accelerating in gravel due to FWD.

I also have a 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R with 3,000 lb tow capacity. The AWD and higher clearance offsets the Minivan issues, but much lower towing power. My math gets me pretty close to the Subaru's max limits and would have to pack light.

Thanks in advance for any insight!
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:04 AM   #2
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When you get your trailer, tow it with the minivan to a place that has scales and weigh it. The stated dry weight for the trailer is usually low. Once you know the exact weight, you will also want to test load the trailer and get the overall weight and the tongue weight while loaded. Be sure to reweigh it if you add a significant number of new items to the load. You will probably find that the Outback will be pushing it.
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Old 04-19-2021, 09:34 AM   #3
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The kicker is the Outback’s low 200# tongue weight limit. A Scamp 16 layout 4 with bath package will average around 2500-2600# gross weight with around 275# tongue weight.

The Pacifica might be a better choice, but double-check the owner’s manual regarding weight distribution. I know the older Chrysler Grand Caravan had something to say about it.
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Old 04-19-2021, 09:44 AM   #4
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I started with a 2004 Toyota Sienna Minivan and a 2010 Casita Spirit Deluxe Travel Trailer. I DID upgrade to a Class Three WDH (recommended by the Casita factory) and, added air bags to the rear springs. I went ALL over the lower 48 for two years getting above 10,000' MSL until the Air Conditioner on my Sienna crapped out (a problem Toyota KNEW about but chose to keep from customers). My Sienna was rated to tow 3,500#; the empty weight on my new Casita was ~ 2,400# so, I had a generous weight margin to work with. Sienna's still are rated to tow 3,500# so, I'd go with a minivan (with the extra lift that air bags provide) over a Subaru.
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Old 04-19-2021, 10:30 AM   #5
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I have a GMC Safari with a factory towing package, rated to tow 5500 lb. I always use a WDH, otherwise there may not be enough weight on the front wheels which negatively impacts the brakes and steering.
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Old 04-19-2021, 11:09 AM   #6
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Exclamation Dry Weight

Ditto re: Alex's advice:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Adams View Post
When you get your trailer, tow it with the minivan to a place that has scales and weigh it. The stated dry weight for the trailer is usually low. Once you know the exact weight, you will also want to test load the trailer and get the overall weight and the tongue weight while loaded. Be sure to reweigh it if you add a significant number of new items to the load. .....
"Dry weight" usually doesn't include battery, stove, sink, fridge, cabinets, propane, etc.

I recently weighed my 17' 2017 Casita Spirit Deluxe on the drive on scale at my local recycling center. Casita currently lists the "dry weight" as 2,480 lbs. My trailer with 1Ĺ+ full propane tanks; battery; no groceries; moderate cooking amenities & camping supplies; empty fresh water tank & grey/black tanks, no awning, etc. weighed 2,900 lbs. Later, one of my friends at a rally used his portable scale to read my tongue weight at 380 lbs.
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:25 PM   #7
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Outback has better mileage
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:30 PM   #8
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Outback has better mileage

Even better mileage if it can't move the trailer.
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:52 PM   #9
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My thought has been to use the minivan as the primary tow vehicle and use the Outback only when necessary. Sounds like a WDH would be needed if I used the Outback.

Also, we intend to primarily tow within 3 hour drive and in the North GA/South NC area. So not the most intensive conditions.
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Old 04-19-2021, 01:54 PM   #10
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I towed a Scamp 13 with a 2014 Subaru Outback with the 3.6. I struggled with the 200 lb tongue weight. The battery and propane tank and head put the tongue weight at 210 lbs per a bathroom scale. I added a cargo carrier to the bike receiver in back of the Scamp to counter weight the stuff up front. It didnít take much of an aft load to get good. The performance of the Subaru was great.

Btw I wanted the 16 ft Scamp but figured it wasnít a good match for the Subaru. I recently got a Jeep and am planning to find a 16 foot something or other. Weíll see what the used market is like in a year or two.
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Old 04-19-2021, 02:31 PM   #11
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Your Chrysler has more than enough towing capacity for the Scamp. I have a Town & Country that handles it just fine. A weight distribution hitch is a good idea too since you have front wheel drive. Adding load leveling shocks might be considered in lew of the WDH.
I use a hitch with a 2inch rise. I use the same thing the other way around for my Ford F150 pickup only the other way around to keep the trailer level.
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Old 04-21-2021, 02:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gene Masse View Post
Your Chrysler has more than enough towing capacity for the Scamp. I have a Town & Country that handles it just fine. A weight distribution hitch is a good idea too since you have front wheel drive. Adding load leveling shocks might be considered in lew of the WDH.
I use a hitch with a 2inch rise. I use the same thing the other way around for my Ford F150 pickup only the other way around to keep the trailer level.
Thanks Gene! This is really helpful!
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Old 04-21-2021, 05:14 PM   #13
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I towed our heavy Scamp 16 all over with no problems with a 2016 T&C. Towed close to 10 K miles over 3 1/2 months from Florida to Scamp home in Backus MN and out to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, into Canada. Hit all of the sights and back and forth all over.
The T&C did a good job (not as good as the 2012 Touareg TDI). The Pacifica should do better with the 8 speed transmission.
One thing to bear in mind is the FWD does have limitations when on gravel due to the high torque of the engine and limited traction.
I used a weight distributing hitch to help with the weight on the front wheels and the bobbing. The one I use is the Reese Mini 350 and it helps.
The paperwork I got with the hitch ( I bought a VW Routan hitch that replaces the bumper bar) stated that the limit dead weight pull is 1800 lbs and the limit with the WDH is 3600 lbs, 3500 with the Stow & Go seats like I have,
The van also has a lot of room and is pretty comfortable towing, but my wife prefers the (new price $65K, I bought used) Touareg, of course.
There is no problem with power and I got 16 MPG towing in all conditions, average.
I added the Teknosha P3 brake controller and have been well pleased with it.
I would not hesitate to take the T&C and Scamp anywhere in the country (well not off road and ridiculous places.
The transmission will downshift climbing grades like most gasoline vehicles, and going downhill the manual option on the transmission helps keep from overheating the brakes.
Go For It!
By the way most of the late T&Cs and probably the Pacifica have self leveling shocks installed as delivered.
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Old 04-24-2021, 12:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshRob View Post
I just put my deposit down for the 16ft layout 4 Scamp - will be my first camper so I have much to learn! Now just have to wait 20 months It looks like my 2017 Chrysler Pacifica should be able to tow the Scamp just fine. I plan on using the anti sway bar, but doesn't look like I'll need a WDH. I plan to mostly camp in established campgrounds for 1-3 nights at a time. Looks like the main downside to towing with a minivan is low clearance (hitch dragging) and difficulty accelerating in gravel due to FWD.

I also have a 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R with 3,000 lb tow capacity. The AWD and higher clearance offsets the Minivan issues, but much lower towing power. My math gets me pretty close to the Subaru's max limits and would have to pack light.

Thanks in advance for any insight!

Josh -



Your calculations above are for GCVW & GVW only, but don't consider trailer wt rating (you mention 3,000 for the Outback) vs. the max. GTW for the trailer (you list 2800 lbs with a SWAG est of 400 lbs payload. You also don't mention your Minivan & Outback's GAWR rating for the rear axle.



When I googled 2017 Pacifica 3600 TW comes up, but you should check on your vehicle, because many automakers have a low base TWR (1000-1500) unless you pay extra for their towing option (incl. HD suspension items & cooling components primary difference) to get their advertised "tows up to" 3500-3600 or whatever TWR. Even Ford F150 pickups only have a 5000 TWR without one of several levels of towing options - but they always tout the maximum with the highest options in ads etc. Do the same for your Outback or any TV.



You really need to look at it overall for all data points for both vehicles:


TV -

Trailer wt. rating (TW) & Hitch wt. rating (HW)*
GVWR, GCVR, front & rear GAWR & Curb wt.

Also note that Curb Wt. includes 150 lb driver + full fuel & all fluids - so don't double count them, but add for driver wt. over 150#



Trailer -

Max. Gross Trailer wt. rating (GTW), Empty TW & do weigh the Scamp wet & loaded for camping as others have noted above.



* HW can be manipulated a bit by how you load & equip the trailer - including: "right size" your LP tanks for how much you need - but measure them full (e.g.: our 1960 Avion T20 "big gal" has 2x 30# LP which last us years, we'd be fine with 2x 20#), load heavier items inside over the axles or in the rear cabinets, load the spare tire & bike rack/bikes on the rear bumper, etc.



You want to stay HW within 10-15% of the actual TW as wet & loaded, so load & weigh first, then play with the HW using a scale on the level at home. You may be able to use a bathroom scale if sturdy enough, or get yourself a Sherline Hitch Scale.



If you only have 200# HWR on the Outback, & your Scamp is 2400# dry/empty/no-options, & more with actual load - then it is not an appropriate TV for the Scamp because you can't even get to 10% of its supposed 3000# Tow Rating. I'm wondering if the HWR is actually more than the 200# or the TWR is less than 3000# - so double check both ratings on that vehicle, as well as for the Pacifica. Less than 10% HW won't properly seat & hold the coupler on the ball (maybe contact Andy Thompson at the info below).



Also - a WDH does not change the HWR at all, & in fact you have the hitch's weight adding to the HW & rear axle wt.



Note that at 2400# + options, payload & fluids - your 16' Scamp is not far off of what the early 1950s-70s Airstreams & other "Vintage Kin" "Aluminum Twinkies" by Avion, Silverstreak, etc. in the 12-19' models weighed (they were built lighter then, than today).



So I would also recco using a WDH + AS hitch with both vehicles - & remember that the WD/ASH wt. also adds to your overall HW & other TV loads. If you're going to be in NoGA & SoNC into the Smokies front range & foothills, then you'll really appreciate it, as well as in any crosswinds & 18-wheelers/buses passing on both freeways & roads. And if you venture further into the Western Carolina Smokies for all the great places there (Asheville, Cherokee, Great Smokie Mountains Park, etc), you'll have plenty of roads where WD/AS is helpful.



Our 1960 Avion T20 (21'-6" L) is not much more than your 2400# dry 16' Scamp - at only 2680# factory empty/dry wt. (no options), & we're only about 3000-3500 lbs wet & loaded - including all of the vintage trailer event "period paraphernalia" - & I use a Hensley Cub WD/AS hitch. We currently rent Enterprise F250/RAM2500 trucks (with built in AS & plenty of load capacity), but will be buying Cayenne. However, we have rented Nissan Pathfinders where the difference was immediate after getting the Hensley Cub WD/AS for towing - vs. on our 1st trip from Orange County to Pismo using a Pathfinder where the Avion would get squirrely over 55 mph.



There are other good WD/AS hitches out there which may be more appropriate to your lighter TVs in order to keep HW down, such as Equalizer, EAZ Lift, etc., but they'll help with both leveling the vehicles' & distributing the weights equally to all axles - as well as for stopping sway/snaking/fishtailing.



But our 1970 Eriba Puck is only 660" dry & 1000# max GTW with 66-100# HW that I'm on this FGRV Forum for it's 1/2 FG & 1/2 Aluminum body - so it's not an issue with our cars as TVs.


A great resource for all members towing with smaller than trucks is Andy Thompson at CanAm RV in Ontario Canada, who is very active on the Airstream Forums (I don't know if he posts on this sister forum). He has helped a lot of owners there with set-up & towing with cars/vans/etc., & has some very helpful "Hitch Hints" articles that he writes for RV Lifestyle magazine.



Andy has helped many with info long distance for setting up their rigs, & is open to folks contacting him.


https://www.canamrv.ca/



https://www.canamrv.ca/towing-expertise/



https://rvlifemag.com/category/rv-life/hitch-hints/



https://rvlifemag.com/tag/hitch-hints/



You'll all probably find Andy's articles etc. helpful.




Have fun with your Scamp Josh!

PS - If the 16' Scamp seems too much for your TVs, & since you've got a deposit with a long manufacturing timeline - you may be able to transfer it to a smaller & lighter Scamp more within you vehicles' capabilities.

Cheers!

Tom
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Old 04-24-2021, 06:43 PM   #15
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JoshRob

You're getting a lot of advice here so I'll try to keep this brief.

Airbags or load leveling shocks are not a substitute for a WDH. The former transfers no weight forward..... all the weight is still on the trailer ball.

Tom T is right.....Andy Thomson (not Thompson) at CanAn RV is an excellent resource, and willing to help even if you haven't purchased anything from him (yet).

CanAm fabricated a reinforced hitch and welded ball mount WDH for my 2009 VW Tiguan (2.0L gas turbo, 6 speed manual) that allowed me to tow a 16' Airstream Bambi with it. I towed that combination for 6 years in all kinds of terrain and it was one of the best handling combinations I've ever driven.

Tell him about both tow vehicle options and see what he recommends.

Look at this video and check out the variety of 4 cylinder tow vehicles he used to pick up 5 brand new Airstreams at the factory in Jackson Center, OH...towing them back to London, Ontario Canada.

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Old 04-25-2021, 05:53 AM   #16
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towing with a minivan

I towed my 2019 16' standard layout 6 with a Honda Odyssey with just adding a hitch, the break package and upgrading the transmission coolant. It's tow capacity is 3500 lbs.
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:27 AM   #17
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Thanks for the insight. I'm getting the estimated dry weight and trailer tongue weight from the "trailer weights in the real world" link on the general chat. Seems like adding WDH with AS should make the minivan (with Tow package) a viable tow vehicle.
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Old 05-01-2021, 12:31 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by JoshRob View Post
Thanks for the insight. I'm getting the estimated dry weight and trailer tongue weight from the "trailer weights in the real world" link on the general chat. Seems like adding WDH with AS should make the minivan (with Tow package) a viable tow vehicle.
Agree. You will find it a very good comb assuming the connection is adjusted optimally.
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