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Discussion Starter #1
We are looking at pop up campers and would like some advice. I was already advised on another thread to go as light as possible on both dry weight and hitch weight (was told Outbacks tow in the Euro fashion and require a low tongue weight). I've settled my parameters on looking at the following:
-Dry weight of 1400 Lbs and lower
-Hitch/tongue weight of under 160 lbs

I would like to have at least one queen bed in the camper which limits my choices even further. The quicksilver campers is basically all that falls into those parameters. It seems we cant have our cake and eat it too. I know the OB has a tow rating of 2700 lbs and I could pull a 2000 lb dry weight camper if I was staying on country roads or even a state hwy and staying in central Indiana. The problem is that we would like to go to Colorado or Tennessee. I have heard taking a 2000 lb camper up an incline of any degree and you end up multiplying your weight which I would rather not do. Im limiting my choices to somethng under 1400 lbs

Does anyone have experiences towing campers with an OB and could share experiences bad or good.
 

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Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailers • Index page

Maybe consider building a camper. There are several here that have. I'm still trying to decide haw to build something my wife will use. Check out the foamie section for some larger light weight builds.
 

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Take a look at the Lil Snoozy camper. It is not a popup, but rather a lightweight, and somewhat aerodynamic fiberglass camper. I have been in one, and they are very spacious and well designed. They have a queen bed as well as a jack knife sofa bed. They also have a bathroom, microwave, AC, etc.

Small Travel Trailer: Camper: Smoakin Concepts Composites

Yes, a little heavier than 1,400 pounds, but within reason for an Outback. Also, the manufacturer is willing to customize quite a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The snoozy seems really cool and it would be fine foor us travelling to Indiana state parks from Indy, but if we ever wanted to hit the interstate it might be difficult. I have also looked at the teardrops which are also really nice but would be limited on space for our family
 

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Everyone has their own comfort lever, and I can appreciate that... But take it from someone who tows a camper with an Outback -- it would not have a problem towing thenLil Snoozy on the highway. You are going to be limited by what speed is safe to tow, not by how fast it will go. For instance, my camper has tires that are speed rated to 65 MPH. I could tow it at 80 MPH if I wanted to, but that just wouldn't be safe. Aso, my camper does not have brakes, so I don't like to push my luck. I may be replacing the axle next year, and if I do, I will be upgrading to electric brakes. Not because the Outback can't stop it, but just for more of a safety margin.

My camper is about 1,500 to 1,600 pounds loaded. The 4 cylinder Outback tows it like a champ. In fact, I used to tow the same camp with a 128 horsepower Scion xD. I also know someone who tows a 16 foot Scamp with a 4 cylinder Outback. I believe her camper weighs in at about 1,700 to 1,800 pounds.
 

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I know the OB has a tow rating of 2700 lbs and I could pull a 2000 lb dry weight camper if I was staying on country roads or even a state hwy and staying in central Indiana. The problem is that we would like to go to Colorado or Tennessee. I have heard taking a 2000 lb camper up an incline of any degree and you end up multiplying your weight which I would rather not do.
You are wise to focus on the really lightweight trailers. Once you get to the Colorado Plateau you will be wishing for more power in a big way. I wouldn't attempt towing anything over 1000 pounds with any four cylinder gas engine at 8000 feet.

Are you dead set on a hard shell camper? How about either a rooftop tent or a RTT combined with a small utility trailer? There are other threads discussing this option, there are a lot of benefits.

One is that you and your wife can sleep in comfort in a small RTT and the kids can rough it on the ground in a small backpacking tent. They will love it!

Good luck finding what you want with a queen bed - I haven't seen many with that option. Maybe some of the widest teardrops......

The main thing in camping with family is to please the wife! Sorry if that sounds sexist, but if you can provide a safe, comfy sleeping environment that is very fast to access, she will be happy and more likely to want to go camping.

This is my recommendation - 60 seconds to set up if you don't turn and beam at the camera after every step:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZYN_wbeNkvw#!

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You are wise to focus on the really lightweight trailers. Once you get to the Colorado Plateau you will be wishing for more power in a big way. I wouldn't attempt towing anything over 1000 pounds with any four cylinder gas engine at 8000 feet.

Are you dead set on a hard shell camper? How about either a rooftop tent or a RTT combined with a small utility trailer? There are other threads discussing this option, there are a lot of benefits.

One is that you and your wife can sleep in comfort in a small RTT and the kids can rough it on the ground in a small backpacking tent. They will love it!

Good luck finding what you want with a queen bed - I haven't seen many with that option. Maybe some of the widest teardrops......

The main thing in camping with family is to please the wife! Sorry if that sounds sexist, but if you can provide a safe, comfy sleeping environment that is very fast to access, she will be happy and more likely to want to go camping.

This is my recommendation - 60 seconds to set up if you don't turn and beam at the camera after every step:

AirTop - Autohome - YouTube

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
Thanks John
I am looking at a Starcraft Starflyer which is basically a popup without the goodies. I am learning that it has a "mousehole" you can fish an extension cord through and run a power strip to run a heater or small AC unit (if you absolutly need it) Its an actual pop up, but only weighs 1065 lbs dry. I am also looking at a Livin Lite Quicksilver 8.1 which has a Queen bed on one end and a twin on the other with a dinette that converts to a full size. This camper is only 865 lbs dry but that includes an electrical system. The Starflyer is much less money, but the Quicksilver is alll aluminum. The Airtop unit you linked is really cool. I can see something like this being really beneficial in bear country! I'm not sure it would be fair to have my wife and I sleep up there and the kids on the ground though. The kids are only 3 and 1 yrs! If they were teenagers maybe. They could probably run faster than my wife and I! Ha
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Everyone has their own comfort lever, and I can appreciate that... But take it from someone who tows a camper with an Outback -- it would not have a problem towing thenLil Snoozy on the highway. You are going to be limited by what speed is safe to tow, not by how fast it will go. For instance, my camper has tires that are speed rated to 65 MPH. I could tow it at 80 MPH if I wanted to, but that just wouldn't be safe. Aso, my camper does not have brakes, so I don't like to push my luck. I may be replacing the axle next year, and if I do, I will be upgrading to electric brakes. Not because the Outback can't stop it, but just for more of a safety margin.

My camper is about 1,500 to 1,600 pounds loaded. The 4 cylinder Outback tows it like a champ. In fact, I used to tow the same camp with a 128 horsepower Scion xD. I also know someone who tows a 16 foot Scamp with a 4 cylinder Outback. I believe her camper weighs in at about 1,700 to 1,800 pounds.
Definitely noted. If we were just travelling in the area it would be fine. I am finding that pop ups offer more space than the superlights. The scamp fiberglass units are really nice though. For storage considerations a pop up makes more sense for us
 

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Definitely noted. If we were just travelling in the area it would be fine. I am finding that pop ups offer more space than the superlights. The scamp fiberglass units are really nice though. For storage considerations a pop up makes more sense for us
For the 2.5 and having kids ie all the crap that comes with kids keep your max weight 1500lbs or less! Empty weight! I towed a 1700lb boat around for many years with the legacy and for a year + with the new ob - when we sold the boat my camping rig plan was 1200lbs or less empty weight so we could go anywhere and have plenty of capacity to hall all the toys and kid crap. The trailer I ended up with is a life time tent trailer two queen sized beds with a 4x6 box ie main floor. The trailer empty is 890lbs and is roughly 5ft 7inches wide at the widest point and 12ft from tail lights to hitch makes for storing in the two car garage super easy and leaves plenty of space for other stuff or a car etc. It is however just a tent on a trailer nothing else other than nice pads for the large beds. Quality is outstanding and we get between 21-26mpg towing it with the 2.5 CVT. I would get the same trailer if I were to do it over again.

Life time just recently changed the design but they still have the older one with the queen sized beds listed on their website if not I would call them and ask about it! The new trailer is terrible two single sized beds with goofy high sides in trailer mode not worth the money! But the older design is great! We freaking love ours!

This is the one we have
PopUp Times Magazine – Lifetime Tent Trailer
 

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I started a camping gear thread in the forums - and now we plan on adding the bunk bed cot system to the tent trailer effectively changing the queen bed area that has a privacy curtain into the kids bedroom bunk beds + area for them to have their stuff etc. This bunk would also give us options for a third kid or say a grand parent who decided to tag along etc.
 

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The larger version of the life time tent trailer is the 6x8 Jumping Jack trailer sold under the Jumping Jack brand - same exact makers of the Life Time trailer same type of set up same level of quality - larger main floor area and longer bunks etc. That trailer is 1200lbs empty that was the first one I found then the smaller 5x6 life time trailer showed up and I jumped on it. Both are made in Utah by a great group of people exceptional quality and customer service.

Nothing like the RV brands at all regarding the spotty quality and poor materials.

Having said that the only RV company that had products I was really looking into was the Quick Silver tent trailers and the Livinglite travel trailers.
They make great products very light. I think you can get a 13ft full hard sided trailer with bunks and a queen bed from them with basic cabinets and a sink that is in the 1300lb range. However! They are not cheap!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
For the 2.5 and having kids ie all the crap that comes with kids keep your max weight 1500lbs or less! Empty weight! I towed a 1700lb boat around for many years with the legacy and for a year + with the new ob - when we sold the boat my camping rig plan was 1200lbs or less empty weight so we could go anywhere and have plenty of capacity to hall all the toys and kid crap. The trailer I ended up with is a life time tent trailer two queen sized beds with a 4x6 box ie main floor. The trailer empty is 890lbs and is roughly 5ft 7inches wide at the widest point and 12ft from tail lights to hitch makes for storing in the two car garage super easy and leaves plenty of space for other stuff or a car etc. It is however just a tent on a trailer nothing else other than nice pads for the large beds. Quality is outstanding and we get between 21-26mpg towing it with the 2.5 CVT. I would get the same trailer if I were to do it over again.

Life time just recently changed the design but they still have the older one with the queen sized beds listed on their website if not I would call them and ask about it! The new trailer is terrible two single sized beds with goofy high sides in trailer mode not worth the money! But the older design is great! We freaking love ours!

This is the one we have
PopUp Times Magazine – Lifetime Tent Trailer
I actually had a long chat conversation with one of the lifetime Tent Trailer CSR's. They were really knowledgeable. They said the reason why the larger tent version one was discontinued was because they may have a new one coming out in the spring. I now know how the ramps make it accept Queen sized mattresses. It looks really nice. It may be the way we go. I am with you and your advice has been extremely helpful. Going as light as possible seems to be a good idea. I am focusing my efforts on looking at the Quicksilver 8.1 865 lbs dry with electrical stuff[which has a queen bunk on one end, twin on the other and a dinette that converts to a full!) The regular 8.0 has two full sized beds with a full dinette, Starflyer 10 *no electricals offered* 1065 lbs dry which is basically a conventional pop up with wood and aluminum skin with no frills, and now the tent trailer 2013 larger model (expected dry weight of 900 llbs)*should have standard full bunks convertible to queens or kings depending on the bunk sizes and tent size)
 

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Sorry, but I am really wondering if the towing capacity for European/Japanese Outbacks are the same as the USDM ones? I drive a 2001 H6 and I know the towing capacity for a trailer with brakes is 1800kg = almost 4000 pounds. I know that most of the times the power is not the limiting factor for the size/weight of the trailer but much more often it is the brakes. My Outback pulled my two horse trailer with one and two horses very often. And it almost never felt like there is not enough power.
The H4 is maybe a little bit different but should be fine with the load it is meant to handle.
 

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Sorry, but I am really wondering if the towing capacity for European/Japanese Outbacks are the same as the USDM ones? I drive a 2001 H6 and I know the towing capacity for a trailer with brakes is 1800kg = almost 4000 pounds. I know that most of the times the power is not the limiting factor for the size/weight of the trailer but much more often it is the brakes. My Outback pulled my two horse trailer with one and two horses very often. And it almost never felt like there is not enough power.
The H4 is maybe a little bit different but should be fine with the load it is meant to handle.
One difference is how the tow hitch attaches. The Euro hitches attach to the bumper mounts, while the US hitches attach below the frame rails. Not sure if that really makes a difference in capacity, but it is certainly a difference between the two.

It is the norm for cars to be given a higher tow rating in Europe than they are in the US... Sometimes having NO tow rating in the US. The US/Euro tow rating for the 2.5 Outback is 2,700/4,000 pounds. My previous car was 0/1600 pounds, and the car before that was 1,500/3,200 pounds. Big differences!

I hope I am not starting another US vs. Euro towing debate. Here is a quick breakdown of the arguments agains following Euro towing spec in the US:

- Euro spec cars must be different than US.
- In Europe, they tow slower.
- In Europe, they don't tow far.
- In Europe, they don't tow in mountains.
- In Europe, the trailers are balanced better.
- In Eirope, they are crazy and people die all the time in trailer accidents.
- Then someone posts the video of a Renault 5 passing a bicyclist up a hill, and - then the same combo rolling quickly down the hill in reverse after some obvious equipment failure.

And if those don't work, just argue that science and physics are different on this side of the world... Most people would believe that
 

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Sorry, but I am really wondering if the towing capacity for European/Japanese Outbacks are the same as the USDM ones? I drive a 2001 H6 and I know the towing capacity for a trailer with brakes is 1800kg = almost 4000 pounds. I know that most of the times the power is not the limiting factor for the size/weight of the trailer but much more often it is the brakes. My Outback pulled my two horse trailer with one and two horses very often. And it almost never felt like there is not enough power.
The H4 is maybe a little bit different but should be fine with the load it is meant to handle.
Having driven on both sides of the pond - crossing Nevada - then Utah and then Colorado the car sees speeds and road conditions and climbs that make the Euro drivers look as if they are on a Sunday drive around town. Also our trailers here in the states are built cheaper do not have proper suspension on them making trailer brakes far far less effective.

Did I mention speed? You never tow trailers in Europe for 20+hrs at speeds pushing 120-140KMph like we have here in the US.

The capacity with the 2.5 and the 3.6 in the use more than anything is the cooling capacity of the car - you can hook any crazy weight you want to it but your not crossing Colorado in the summer and arriving in the the same car you started with. That is why going as light as you can is very important not to mention in the US we tend to weigh more and pack more crap which can double your haul weight easily.

I'm not even going to touch the comment about towing a horse trailer in the US with a subaru. I had horses for many years and many generations of Horse traders in the family HP was generally not the big issue though we did have various trips where we had to get horses out of the trailer and ride or walk them up certain climbs ie back country Yosemite pack trips given the trucks up till about the 70's simply did not have the power to haul them up the hill. Don't even get me started with tow vehicle weight and stopping and stability capability with live animals in tow worth thousands and thousands of dollars.

No one in their right mind in the US would tow a horse trailer with a Subaru sorry.
 

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you can hook any crazy weight you want to it but your not crossing Colorado in the summer and arriving in the the same car you started with.
LOL - brilliant!

The Colorado Plateau in hot weather humbles marginal tow vehicles and destroys the bad ones. It's stunning scenery, but really hard on heavily loaded vehicles.....

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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So there really are differences between US and European tow capacities. I didn't know that.

@mcbrew:

The fact about the speed is true. Cars with trailors are only allowed to go 80km/h = 50mph (It is the same for 40t trucks). If the trailer and car combo meets certain standarts they are allowed to go 100km/h = 62mph. But 140km/h in the US? You are a little exaggerating here I think.

The fact that the trailers are of a better quality might also be true. Trailers are beeing checked by the TÜV every two years. Hardly any home made trailers here at all.

That we don't tow trailer long distances is true. 500km = 310miles is called a very long distance over here.

We have mountains here as well but maybe the slope of the mountain roads is different.

@subiesaler: You wouldn't believe what car/trailer combo's show up at the horse tournements here.
 

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So there really are differences between US and European tow capacities. I didn't know that.

@mcbrew:

The fact about the speed is true. Cars with trailors are only allowed to go 80km/h = 50mph (It is the same for 40t trucks). If the trailer and car combo meets certain standarts they are allowed to go 100km/h = 62mph. But 140km/h in the US? You are a little exaggerating here I think.

The fact that the trailers are of a better quality might also be true. Trailers are beeing checked by the TÜV every two years. Hardly any home made trailers here at all.

That we don't tow trailer long distances is true. 500km = 310miles is called a very long distance over here.

We have mountains here as well but maybe the slope of the mountain roads is different.

@subiesaler: You wouldn't believe what car/trailer combo's show up at the horse tournements here.
Yes I do know that one of the top Dressage trainers in Germany is a very good friend. Though even when she was a grunt she towed with a heavy SUV. Why? Simple the meat she was packing in the trailer was worth 10X what the tow car was worth and accidents with horse trailers and too small tow cars in Europe are very common. Here in the states it is very very rare.

And yes crossing major states in the US such as AZ and Utah even parts of Colorado you will see truckers and private vehicles towing trailers at 70-80mph here. I can't even begin to tell you how many trailers and trucks passed me in a 29hr long trip from SF to Dillon Col that were doing 80mph. Not exaggerating at all its a waste land out there for much of the middle of the US people drive across those sections as FAST AS THEY CAN
 

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@crossgolf, I have seen how people drive and tow in Europe. I am impressed every time. Yes, you get the occasional idiot anywhere, but there are a lot more idiotic drivers here than over there. I used to drive a MB Sprinter van for work. I drove 700 miles in a day, so I was driving fast -- about 75 MPH most of the time, even with 5,000 pounds of cargo. I wold get passed by pickup trucks towing 30+ foot camping trailers! No, it is not legal, but it is not enforced. Some US states have lower speed limits for towing, but I have never heard of someone being ticketed for it. At least in my state, a trailer only gets inspected when it is first put on the road. After that, they can fall into pretty severe states of disrepair. Most police officers don't even know what the towing laws are.

This is why car/truck companies are so cautious with tow ratings here. People don't "need" to drive fast... But they are probably going to, anyway. There is no special training or licensing involved with towing in the US. Also, our school systems are not teaching much in the way of science and physics, so your average person simply doesn't understand what is going on behind their car.
 
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We ordered a 5-Wide Teardrop from Littleguy. A little costly but other options were something we were not interested in. I will not have my kid sleeping on the ground here in AZ. Too many things slither here. My wife does not like the idea of sleeping on the ground either. Her first AND only experience was in a shitty little tent from Walmart next to an airplane at Oshkosh...and there was an end of the world like thunderstorm that night. I figured, this is one way to go! We did not get wet (ironically) but that was not a good first trip out.

Our teardrop will have a queen size bed, and the galley on the back with stove and sink. Plenty of storage space, it will fit easily in our garage (saving storage expenses or leaving it out on the elements here in AZ), tows easily, and weighs less than 1K with less than 100 lbs tongue weight.

Drawback..I will end up in an attached tent on a cot while the ladies are comfy. I slept on a bed of needle pines in the Army under a musty shelter half that I swore smelled of the Revolutionary War...so a cot is an upgrade.
 
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