Interesting thread. I'll add my $.02 based on nearly 30 years of tents, 2 pop-ups, and 2 hybrids. I've towed with Suburbans, a GMC Safari van, a mini-van, a Trailblazer, and my current 1/2 ton PU.
Trailer types - Hybrid vs. Rpod vs. popup
- If you like tents now, you'll love a pop-up or hybrid. Hybrids have a lot of floor space and the advantages of a TT in a small package and still have that "outdoors" feel. As said above, we're on our second one in 11 years. Hybrids and pop-ups can be a bit of a pain when packing wet, especially pop-ups. Hybrids are easier in this because its only the bunks ends you have to dry out and since they are vinyl covered, they are easy to wipe down and dry fast.
I've looked at Rpods and they are impressive. You can even get one with a slide out. They are too small for our needs, but these my be just the ticket for yours.
- How long for each camping type? The real answer is "it depends". This can be as hard or as easy as you make it. I've seen tenters and pup-ups set up in 15 minutes and folks with 5vers take over an hour. With each "upgrade" our routine was easier. If we keep things simple we can setup our current hybrid in well under 30 minutes. As it is we have whirly gigs we put up, lights, and a rotisserie grill over the fire pit among other "necessities". It takes us a little over an hour.
- We found a pop-up to be easier to ride out bad weather than a tent, conversely, hybrids to be easier to ride out the weather than a pop-up. Our first pop-up purchase was primarily to get off the ground and not wake up in the middle of a monsoon river (man, I don't
miss tenting!), and to have a furnace. We just got back from a trip with our X20E. It rained 8 inches in less than 24 hours in Egg Harbor, WI. Not a drop of water in the trailer. Gotta love vinyl covered bunk ends! The only thing I lost was a good nights sleep from the constant thunder.
- Dry weight is a fictional number. It is a weight without the options, without propane, and nothing stored inside. That's not how the trailer is delivered to the dealer. And that's not how we travel. Use the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) as a number to calculate your towing ability. That's the most the trailer can weigh fully loaded and is closer to your real towing weight. Most likely you'll be under that number loaded so you'll still be in your margin. Also, they say tongue weight should be 10%-15% of the weight of the trailer. For planning purposes figure 13% to be closer to reality. I don't know anyone that has a 10% tongue on their travel trailer or hybrid.
Towing close to capacity
- I have knowingly towed close to my capacity twice, with 2 different trailers and 2 different tow vehicles. As said above it's doable if you "pack light". It's safe if you are properly set up. But you are also limited on how far you can comfortably tow and in what kind of terrain (flats vs. mountains). Yes people tow 4k pound trailers with mini-vans cross country and in mountains and tell you that it's no problem. I submit that these same folks have never towed that same 4k trailer with a full size 1/2 ton truck to compare the difference.
I have made the comparison. It is far more pleasurable to have margin than to tow close to your capacity. That said its very likely I would choose to tow close to capacity again. The key is understanding what you are getting into, and knowing both the capabilities and limits of your setup.
Keep in mind that your kids are growing and will want to take more "stuff". More stuff = more weight. More weight is harder on your small tow vehicle.
I think you should stick with a pop-up or an Rpod for towability. If you choose a small hybrid, I would not be surprised if you aren't looking at bigger tow vehicles in 12-18 months.
Originally Posted by nbhybrid
14 inch tires instead of 13
I've been trying for years to wrap my arms around that one. Both our hybrids have (had) 13 tires. I towed our previous single axle HTT with 13" tires on a 6k mile trip out west and another trip to Yellowstone and back. I had that trailer for 10 years and only replaced the tires due to age. And I'm in our second season with the X20E with 13 " tires.