Travel Trailer Debate- Experienced Opinions Wanted

aj8544

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My wife and I are looking at travel trailers for our family of 4 soon to be 5. After looking at several brands and layouts we have narrowed our search down to 2 models:

Grand Design Imagine XLS 21bhe
Dry Weight 4698
Tongue Weight 456
Length 24’ 11”

Grand Design Imagine XLS 23bhe
Dry Weight 5325
Tongue Weight 504
Length 27’ 11”

The price difference between trailers is negligible, making the 23 alot more trailer for the money, more spacious due to it’s slide (21 doesnt have a slide), and has the nicety of a separate front bedroom. It is for sure my wife’s pick and likely the trailer we would be happier with long term.

However, my JT is a Rubicon auto- 7k max towing and 1198lbs payload. I am fairly comfortable with the weights of the 21bhe, thinking if we pack light I can stay in the 5500 lb range and keep tongue weight under 600lbs. With the 23bhe even packing light I’m sure we will be over 6000lbs and pushing 650 on the hitch. Will obviously be using weight distribution with sway control for either trailer, and already have a Curt Spectrum installed.

I’ve towed 6000lbs with the JT in the form of my 18ft utility trailer with JD tractor loaded. It did better than I expected, but the sidewall profile of a travel trailer is a whole different ballgame.

Anyone have experience towing travel trailers in this weight range? Going over 5000lbs dry worries me a bit- is the extra couple of feet in length and 600lbs total/ 50lbs tongue weight that big of a deal?

 

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My wife and I are looking at travel trailers for our family of 4 soon to be 5. After looking at several brands and layouts we have narrowed our search down to 2 models:

Grand Design Imagine XLS 21bhe
Dry Weight 4698
Tongue Weight 456
Length 24’ 11”

Grand Design Imagine XLS 23bhe
Dry Weight 5325
Tongue Weight 504
Length 27’ 11”

The price difference between trailers is negligible, making the 23 alot more trailer for the money, more spacious due to it’s slide (21 doesnt have a slide), and has the nicety of a separate front bedroom. It is for sure my wife’s pick and likely the trailer we would be happier with long term.

However, my JT is a Rubicon auto- 7k max towing and 1198lbs payload. I am fairly comfortable with the weights of the 21bhe, thinking if we pack light I can stay in the 5500 lb range and keep tongue weight under 600lbs. With the 23bhe even packing light I’m sure we will be over 6000lbs and pushing 650 on the hitch. Will obviously be using weight distribution with sway control for either trailer, and already have a Curt Spectrum installed.

I’ve towed 6000lbs with the JT in the form of my 18ft utility trailer with JD tractor loaded. It did better than I expected, but the sidewall profile of a travel trailer is a whole different ballgame.

Anyone have experience towing travel trailers in this weight range? Going over 5000lbs dry worries me a bit- is the extra couple of feet in length and 600lbs total/ 50lbs tongue weight that big of a deal?
https://www.jeepgladiatorforum.com/forum/forums/towing-and-trailering.32/

https://www.jeepgladiatorforum.com/forum/threads/can-we-talk-jt-normal-tow.40629/post-661169
https://www.jeepgladiatorforum.com/forum/threads/so-what-is-everybody-towing.19105/post-583260
 

WemoVealot

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My wife and I are looking at travel trailers for our family of 4 soon to be 5. After looking at several brands and layouts we have narrowed our search down to 2 models:

Grand Design Imagine XLS 21bhe
Dry Weight 4698
Tongue Weight 456
Length 24’ 11”

Grand Design Imagine XLS 23bhe
Dry Weight 5325
Tongue Weight 504
Length 27’ 11”

The price difference between trailers is negligible, making the 23 alot more trailer for the money, more spacious due to it’s slide (21 doesnt have a slide), and has the nicety of a separate front bedroom. It is for sure my wife’s pick and likely the trailer we would be happier with long term.

However, my JT is a Rubicon auto- 7k max towing and 1198lbs payload. I am fairly comfortable with the weights of the 21bhe, thinking if we pack light I can stay in the 5500 lb range and keep tongue weight under 600lbs. With the 23bhe even packing light I’m sure we will be over 6000lbs and pushing 650 on the hitch. Will obviously be using weight distribution with sway control for either trailer, and already have a Curt Spectrum installed.

I’ve towed 6000lbs with the JT in the form of my 18ft utility trailer with JD tractor loaded. It did better than I expected, but the sidewall profile of a travel trailer is a whole different ballgame.

Anyone have experience towing travel trailers in this weight range? Going over 5000lbs dry worries me a bit- is the extra couple of feet in length and 600lbs total/ 50lbs tongue weight that big of a deal?
Hey man! Sounds exciting! Just some friendly (possibly unwanted) advice from a stranger who LOVES family camping. If you're set on purchasing a TT - you can ignore the rest of this message.

I spent *years* agonizing over the same questions, only to conclude I would never own a TT. After taking my family of 4 (now 5) TT camping I realized the unforeseen/underestimated pains of setup, takedown, maneuvering w/ a massive object behind me, fuel, maintenance and storage. And that was driving a 3/4 ton. I was also beholden to finding a dedicated RV campground and 'enjoying nature' 10 feet from other people.

Enter the Gladiator: much less towing capacity and payload but more offroad capable. I bought it for the sole purpose of taking the family camping. Ultimately, due to payload, tow capacity, and lessons-learned, we've opted for camping out of the truck itself until we purchase an offroad trailer (Turtleback) which I can store in my garage.

Granted my little one is three now, and we were willing to forego the 'interior' bathroom. Again maybe your circumstances are different or you've already taken these considerations into account.

Looking forward to seeing what you decide. All the best!
 
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aj8544

aj8544

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Hey man! Sounds exciting! Just some friendly (possibly unwanted) advice from a stranger who LOVES family camping. If you're set on purchasing a TT - you can ignore the rest of this message.

I spent *years* agonizing over the same questions, only to conclude I would never own a TT. After taking my family of 4 (now 5) TT camping I realized the unforeseen/underestimated pains of setup, takedown, maneuvering w/ a massive object behind me, fuel, maintenance and storage. And that was driving a 3/4 ton. I was also beholden to finding a dedicated RV campground and 'enjoying nature' 10 feet from other people.

Enter the Gladiator: much less towing capacity and payload but more offroad capable. I bought it for the sole purpose of taking the family camping. Ultimately, due to payload, tow capacity, and lessons-learned, we've opted for camping out of the truck itself until we purchase an offroad trailer (Turtleback) which I can store in my garage.

Granted my little one is three now, and we were willing to forego the 'interior' bathroom. Again maybe your circumstances are different or you've already taken these considerations into account.

Looking forward to seeing what you decide. All the best!
Rooftop tent was my original plan so I could still tow my fishing boat. But my 2 daughters (6 and 4) don’t do well in a tent, and a bathroom is pretty much a must (I’m highly outnumbered). My hope is to get something the JT can handle so I still have the truck for offroading etc... once unhooked and set up. We narrowed it down to the grand designs because the others we looked at (geo pro, ibex, nobo) were either single axle or terrible quality. I too used to own a 3/4 ton and have no interest in going back.

Definitely plan to have solar and a generator and be under 30ft so we aren’t as limited on what sites we can use- I have no interest in going to a trailer park for the weekend- thanks for the insight!
 

danielspivey

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My wife and I are looking at travel trailers for our family of 4 soon to be 5. After looking at several brands and layouts we have narrowed our search down to 2 models:

Grand Design Imagine XLS 21bhe
Dry Weight 4698
Tongue Weight 456
Length 24’ 11”

Grand Design Imagine XLS 23bhe
Dry Weight 5325
Tongue Weight 504
Length 27’ 11”

The price difference between trailers is negligible, making the 23 alot more trailer for the money, more spacious due to it’s slide (21 doesnt have a slide), and has the nicety of a separate front bedroom. It is for sure my wife’s pick and likely the trailer we would be happier with long term.

However, my JT is a Rubicon auto- 7k max towing and 1198lbs payload. I am fairly comfortable with the weights of the 21bhe, thinking if we pack light I can stay in the 5500 lb range and keep tongue weight under 600lbs. With the 23bhe even packing light I’m sure we will be over 6000lbs and pushing 650 on the hitch. Will obviously be using weight distribution with sway control for either trailer, and already have a Curt Spectrum installed.

I’ve towed 6000lbs with the JT in the form of my 18ft utility trailer with JD tractor loaded. It did better than I expected, but the sidewall profile of a travel trailer is a whole different ballgame.

Anyone have experience towing travel trailers in this weight range? Going over 5000lbs dry worries me a bit- is the extra couple of feet in length and 600lbs total/ 50lbs tongue weight that big of a deal?
Is your whole family going to ride in the JT while towing ?

Also tongue weights are very misleading. Most the percentage is well higher than the “10%” rule because often the batteries and propane tanks filled, and that huge storage compartment upfront really adds to that front weight.

to get straight to the point, your payload is going to be the issue. You absolutely need a WDH... that makes your payload immediately 1050. Subtract even 500 as a tongue weight your at 550. That’s 550 for ALL passengers and gear....

I have a max tow (almost 1600 payload) and the only way to legally/safely make it work was to have my wife drive her SUV. I know it sounds like a lot driving two cars, and everyone not being “together”, what what is fun and relaxing about having to worry about driving, paying attention to having your trailer, and having all those distractions in the car?

Also, having the other SUV is nice when you need to scout a site or run through a drive through while traveling.
 
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brianinca

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Reading through your post the first thing I thought was "two car family" - and @danielspivey nailed it. You're not going to be boondocking offroad with that trailer, at most off pavement, so your passengers will be able to get anywhere the trailer can in another car/SUV.

Put the payload of the other vehicle to use and use the JT as the dedicated tow rig, and you should be OK. Pack WISELY, the GVWR is right at the max the JTR is rated for on the big trailer.

The "empty" or "dry" weight of trailers is bad data to drive your calculations, don't use the data for tongue weight from that. 12% is what you're aiming for, and that hits your payload right in the kiester.

Your observation about the sail area of a travel trailer vs cargo is on the money, and you need to think in terms of filing a flight plan. We ran over to a neighboring town for my wife's 2nd COVID shot yesterday. The wind was a strong, steady 25 MPH as a cold front moved in. I remarked that we would have had to park the trailer if we were towing.

You have to leave the "we're on a trip, we have a schedule" mindset behind. I know the dad of a high school kid killed in a plane crash caused by flying into known bad weather, because the rookie pilot "promised those kids a ride". Keep the bigger picture in mind at all times and you should be fine.
 

eaglerugby04

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Rooftop tent was my original plan so I could still tow my fishing boat. But my 2 daughters (6 and 4) don’t do well in a tent, and a bathroom is pretty much a must (I’m highly outnumbered). My hope is to get something the JT can handle so I still have the truck for offroading etc... once unhooked and set up. We narrowed it down to the grand designs because the others we looked at (geo pro, ibex, nobo) were either single axle or terrible quality. I too used to own a 3/4 ton and have no interest in going back.

Definitely plan to have solar and a generator and be under 30ft so we aren’t as limited on what sites we can use- I have no interest in going to a trailer park for the weekend- thanks for the insight!
Exactly how I ended up with a travel trailer. Was looking at camping gear and realized that a used TT wasn't much more than good camping gear. Having two daughters I knew this is the only way they will stay happy.

Honestly I think part of it depends on how far and where you plan on going. Mine is kind of at the limit of the JTR but I also tend to stay within my area to places I can get to avoiding highways.
 
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aj8544

aj8544

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Exactly how I ended up with a travel trailer. Was looking at camping gear and realized that a used TT wasn't much more than good camping gear. Having two daughters I knew this is the only way they will stay happy.

Honestly I think part of it depends on how far and where you plan on going. Mine is kind of at the limit of the JTR but I also tend to stay within my area to places I can get to avoiding highways.
What are the weights etc... of what your pulling?
 

AzRob

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I don't own, and have never owned a TT. I have owned several RV's and towed Jeeps behind for many years.

I have RV'ed all of the lower 48 and into Canada 3 times so I feel like I can speak on this topic with some knowledge. I am a member on different RV and towable forums.

The general rule of thumb they tell all newbies thinking of pulling a trailer is 80% fully loaded.
Also they often recommend to find the trailer you want then get the truck that is needed to pull it.

Take your max numbers, and never go higher than 80% with tanks full truck filled up and loaded with all people, gear, pets, bikes. etc....

CAT scales are your friend for around $25 you will have all the answers.

Now will come the keyboard experts saying "go to the max... or even a little over... you'll be fine."

Some things you should search first...

Go to the RV forums and read or ask.... everything you see will tell you the same.

Go to you tube and search things like "pull trailer crash." You will see what happens when the trailer is "too much"

I get you want to buy the biggest one, but can your truck control and STOP it. Many find out the hard way they bought way to much trailer for the truck and end up selling it soon after because its always a white knuckle driving experience and it just becomes too scary every time they hook it up.

Good luck.
 

jetrocker

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Tow a 30 ft TT, 6140 dry wt. with a Sport S, Automatic, Max Tow package...little to no gear in truck, just wife and I? Maybe 600-700lbs in trailer. Max of 5-10 gallons liquid while towing. Max trip length probably 600 miles.

Anyone similar experience with feedback or observations? I understand this is pushing it a bit, but trying to realistically see if we can get the trailer we'd be most happy with without having continuous towing regret and anxiety. Minnie 2301BHS.
 


Courtsm3

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Hey. I can help a little, not a lot as my experience is very little at this point of writing.

Had a tent trailer with my TRD Pro and I have three kids ( now 14.13 and 3). Good call on a travel trailer as i dumped my tent trailer after one summer.

I have a brand new 2021 Jayco Jayflight 7 184BS Baja. 21’3” and dry weight 3451lbs. Weight distribution hitch and curt echo bc. Towing with a Sport S 3.73 but on Rubicon springs, 33’s and Mojave fox shocks. So I use the Rubicon tow/payload numbers and not whats on my door. Dry hitch weight is sub 400lbs dry and trailer is lifted with single axle (soon to be timbren axle less). Gladiator does decent, so far one trip from the dealership to my driveway in a mountainous pass. I live at 2500ft. This trailer was my personal limit as far as the gladiator is concerned. I dont feel unsafe but yes the Jeep revs on hills but it does the job without a huge struggle. All in all I think you will be Ok but 6000 is pushing it. Maybe 4.10s will keep you in a better powerband than my 3.73’s. Just keep in mind length of the trailer and where you camp. Many sites I will be visiting are small and almost all dry sites. Hope this helps a little.
 
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aj8544

aj8544

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I don't own, and have never owned a TT. I have owned several RV's and towed Jeeps behind for many years.

I have RV'ed all of the lower 48 and into Canada 3 times so I feel like I can speak on this topic with some knowledge. I am a member on different RV and towable forums.

The general rule of thumb they tell all newbies thinking of pulling a trailer is 80% fully loaded.
Also they often recommend to find the trailer you want then get the truck that is needed to pull it.

Take your max numbers, and never go higher than 80% with tanks full truck filled up and loaded with all people, gear, pets, bikes. etc....

CAT scales are your friend for around $25 you will have all the answers.

Now will come the keyboard experts saying "go to the max... or even a little over... you'll be fine."

Some things you should search first...

Go to the RV forums and read or ask.... everything you see will tell you the same.

Go to you tube and search things like "pull trailer crash." You will see what happens when the trailer is "too much"

I get you want to buy the biggest one, but can your truck control and STOP it. Many find out the hard way they bought way to much trailer for the truck and end up selling it soon after because its always a white knuckle driving experience and it just becomes too scary every time they hook it up.

Good luck.
Thanks- exactly the numbers I’m going by. 80% of my tow capacity puts me at 5800lbs. Leaves about 500lbs for loading trailer before we have to take a second vehicle. My wife and daughters are a combined 200lbs soaking wet so that helps the payload a bit.

That being said 5 years ago I bought a 3/4 ton truck to pull my 7k trailer after someone pulled out in front of me while towing that trailer with a 1/2 ton.

My current plan is to go with the larger trailer. With a baby due in July the added floor space and enclosed bedroom seem nearly essential.

If it’s not comfortable/ safe to pull with my JT then I’ll trade my wife’s Wrangler on a bigger truck 🤣. JT isnt going anywhere!
 
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aj8544

aj8544

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Hey. I can help a little, not a lot as my experience is very little at this point of writing.

Had a tent trailer with my TRD Pro and I have three kids ( now 14.13 and 3). Good call on a travel trailer as i dumped my tent trailer after one summer.

I have a brand new 2021 Jayco Jayflight 7 184BS Baja. 21’3” and dry weight 3451lbs. Weight distribution hitch and curt echo bc. Towing with a Sport S 3.73 but on Rubicon springs, 33’s and Mojave fox shocks. So I use the Rubicon tow/payload numbers and not whats on my door. Dry hitch weight is sub 400lbs dry and trailer is lifted with single axle (soon to be timbren axle less). Gladiator does decent, so far one trip from the dealership to my driveway in a mountainous pass. I live at 2500ft. This trailer was my personal limit as far as the gladiator is concerned. I dont feel unsafe but yes the Jeep revs on hills but it does the job without a huge struggle. All in all I think you will be Ok but 6000 is pushing it. Maybe 4.10s will keep you in a better powerband than my 3.73’s. Just keep in mind length of the trailer and where you camp. Many sites I will be visiting are small and almost all dry sites. Hope this helps a little.
Thank you! Looked at a few Jay flights yesterday- If I was going aluminum that would be my choice. I think the 4.10 gears in combination with the 8spd are a big help- we live on a large hill with steep grades that used to tax my 6.4 hemi pulling my tractor on utility trailer. My JT pulls the hills surprisingly well for such a small displacement. Also the 3.6 seems happy at near redline rpm, the 6.4 in my 2500 sounded like it was going to come apart...
 

Courtsm3

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Thank you! Looked at a few Jay flights yesterday- If I was going aluminum that would be my choice. I think the 4.10 gears in combination with the 8spd are a big help- we live on a large hill with steep grades that used to tax my 6.4 hemi pulling my tractor on utility trailer. My JT pulls the hills surprisingly well for such a small displacement. Also the 3.6 seems happy at near redline rpm, the 6.4 in my 2500 sounded like it was going to come apart...
I got the fibreglass unit. Easier to clean! All the best with the hunt! Its fun!
 

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Good luck with your camping trips, I don't have advice, but my personal plan with the wife and I and 2 kids under 3 is for her to take her JLU and me pull a hard side pop up with the Gladiator. There are quite a few of these with indoor bathrooms available now, and with it down for towing wind shouldn't be too much of an issue.

 

 
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