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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We just purchased a 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i and would like to consider purchasing a used smaller size pop up/tent camper/folding camper. Some of the questions I have are:
  • Do any of you tow pop up campers with your 2010-2013 outback and if so what are some issues or quirks I need to be aware of when shopping for a pop up, i.e. max unloaded vehicle weight (UVW), Maximum Tongue Weight, etc. Im primarily looking at 8' box campers to keep it simple.
  • Regarding hitches I hear some say they installed a hitch without drilling, but all of the videos I see online show drilling a pilot hole to pull the bolts through the factory holes in the frame rails (the factory holes are plugged with plastic plugs) and in order to get the heads of the bolts on the inside you need to pull them through a pilot hole. Also which brand and model hitch is best for a 2013 Outback. We only need a 1-1/4 receiver.
  • Being that I have never pulled anything with any vehicle I am completely new to this. All I have done with a hitch is utilized a yakima hitch rack on our Honda CRV I want to do this right, i.e. not stressing out our primary family vehicle so any tips would be helpful. We live in the flats of central Indiana so we will be on flat ground 90% of the time, but we do want to go to the Smoky's or to Colorado with the pop up as well
Any help you may provide will be great

Jon
 

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Towing a popup is not going to stress the vehicle, as long as you stay withing it's limits, drive carefully, and use good fluids.

I have towed with every car I have owned... From a subcompact Scion xD to a Mercedes Sprinter van. Basically, the first thing I do when I buy a car or truck is install a hitch. None of my vehicles has ever had a towing related problem. I sent oil samples from the Scion out to Blackstone for analysis regularly, and it was still well within spec at 10,000 mile intervals. I chose to change the oil at 10k intervals because it was easy to remember.

Keep the tongue weight down! These cars have a max capacity of 200 pounds on the tongue, but they drive better at 150 pounds. You can pack up your camp with more weight above or behind the axle to help reduce tongue weight. You can also switch out the steel propane tank for a fiberglass one. I would stay away from models that have two propane tanks... Or at least plan on removing one of them.

You do NOT need 10% of the weight on the tongue. This is a myth that has taken hold in the US. The standard in most parts of the world is 4 or 5%. The major concern is that the lighter the tongue weight, the lower the speed will be that trailer sway can occur. US trailer manufacturers assume that people are going to drive at 75-80 MPH with a trailer in tow, so they build for a higher tongue weight. In Europe, they require people to drive at reasonable speeds with trailers... often having lower speed limits. If you drive no faster than 60-65 MPH, you will be fine with 5% tongue weight.

State laws vary in regards to trailer brakes. My 1,200 pound camper does not have them, and it stops just fine. It takes a little longer, just like it does when you have more people/stuff in your car, but nothing crazy. There are two types of trailer brakes: electric and surge. Electric brakes require you to install a brake controller in the car, and have it wired back to the trailer connector. The brake actuator looks a lot like a radar detector. It will sense your braking through a line connected to your brake pedal switch and through its own sensors, and send the appropriate signal to the trailer. If you get one, get a "proportional" one, such as the Tekomsha Prodigy2 or Prodigy3. Surge brakes have an actuator at the trailer coupler, and it works like your brake pedal. When you brake the car, the coupler gets pushed, and hydraulic fluid is forced to the trailer brakes. There is no connection to your car. These are simpler, but you can't operate them on their own like you can with electric brakes... Which is the best way to stop a swaying trailer (operate just the trailer brakes to bring it back in line with your car).

As far as hitches, you don't need to drill for access holes. You can remove the bumper to access the frame rails. Some hitches need holes drilled for bolts, though. My Curt hitch uses two of the existing holes, but needs two more holes drilled. I don't mind that, as I have installed many hitches, and have never seen any problems from drilling. I'm not a big fan of the 1.25" receivers, as they limit the types of ball mounts and accessories you can use. I have owned both, but would take a 2" hitch over a 1.25" any day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
On the tongue weight a Jayco 806 camper shows a "hitch weight" of 180 lbs which with a max of 200 thats cutting it close. The others I have looked at are in the 130 lb range on the tongue weight. I had no idea they had fiberglass propane tanks. I will look into that. Regarding the hitches I kept hearing people talk about removing the back bumper. Do you find that hitch dealers will do that or is it mainly the do it yourselfers that find that to be the best method? On the 2" vs 1-1/4 I know what you mean, but we have some accessories, i.e. a bike rack with a 1-1/4 that we would like to use. Is one any stronger than the other? Regarding the speed and the tongue weight we would probably not go over 65 in most cases, but if I woould hit I70 and go to Colorado we would get blown off the road going 65! so I would probably need to cruise at 70+
 

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On the tongue weight a Jayco 806 camper shows a "hitch weight" of 180 lbs which with a max of 200 thats cutting it close. The others I have looked at are in the 130 lb range on the tongue weight. I had no idea they had fiberglass propane tanks. I will look into that. Regarding the hitches I kept hearing people talk about removing the back bumper. Do you find that hitch dealers will do that or is it mainly the do it yourselfers that find that to be the best method? On the 2" vs 1-1/4 I know what you mean, but we have some accessories, i.e. a bike rack with a 1-1/4 that we would like to use. Is one any stronger than the other? Regarding the speed and the tongue weight we would probably not go over 65 in most cases, but if I woould hit I70 and go to Colorado we would get blown off the road going 65! so I would probably need to cruise at 70+
The hitch frame which has the 2inch or 1 1/4th inch receiver is basically the same hitch with a different sized hitch receiver on it. Given the car's frame capacity either hitch works fine for towing no difference. The major reason for getting the 2inch receiver hitch is for the newer bike racks which all work better with the 2inch set up.


Regardless of where your going or plan on going your trailer you select will limit your safe speed. If your purchasing a heavy trailer then packing your car and trailer you will not be doing 70mph or 70+ mph. Also depending on which state you are in vehicles towing trailers often have lower speed limits and yes the fine is usually double to triple the fine you would get if you were just driving the car with no trailer over the speed limit etc.

I have said this over and over and over - if you plan on doing long road trips across hot states and long climbs and expect to carry additional gear and toys along you need to shoot for as light as you can regarding empty trailer weight. That is why I set a max empty weight of 1200lbs when we started our trailer search. As a result we can do 70mph towing the very light compact trailer which sits on large 13inch wheels etc.

When you get heavy - and wide - sitting on tiny wheels your range of stability at speed is decreased given the trailer weight is just that much more load on the tow vehicle.

When towing short distances around town locally you can pack the trailer to the 2700lb limit of the outback and be just fine. When you do long distance travel with lots of various terrain and temps and weather conditions the general rule is that you shoot for half or less than the max tow weight for your basic empty weight this way you can pack gear and people and still be fully within the max towing capacity.

The worst thing people do is see 2700lbs or 3000lbs max towing capacity and they assume its safe and totally 100% workable for their trailer ideas assuming the empty trailer is within the 2700lbs or 3000lbs. Thats not really the case MAX capacity Empty with no passengers or gear simply does not work.

I have towed our large 21ft racing sailboat which on the trailer total weight was 1700lbs behind the car. When I did a regatta in Dillon CO - I opted to borrow a Chevy Yukon given I have towed the boat plenty with the 2.5 engine and the new OB with CVT to know that 25hr drive from CA to Dillon would not be enjoyable with the Subaru pulling 1700lbs + three adults and gear.

However my camping set up because I targeted 1200lbs or less empty weight for our camping rig we can pack the car to the brim with camping gear - toys kids - dogs Parents + the 890lb trailer and the car hardly even notices. We could have easily gone 1200lbs for the trailer but I couldn't find one for the price range I wanted to pay. Closest option was the Jumping Jack Trailer slightly used which ran about $4000 if I could fine one.
I looked at the Jayco's and the Coleman and other classic RV brands all were used super cheap in bad shape and quite heavy.

That is the one down side to having a low towing limit the RV options out there are still being built with the idea that everyone owns V6 and V8 large vehicles so weight and materials are kept as cheap as possible and weight is not really much of a concern.

The difference between a Pop UP and a Tent Trailer is either one and the same or the POP up HARD SIDED RV trailers which are rare and quite heavy and unless you can find a mini one built of light weight materials I've never seen a hard sided Popup trailer that would ever be within the Subaru towing limits.
 

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We just purchased a 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i and would like to consider purchasing a used smaller size pop up/tent camper/folding camper.
SNIP
we do want to go to the Smoky's or to Colorado with the pop up as well
subiesailor speaks well - load your rig lightly! He used to drive an old Land Cruiser, so he knows about struggling with inadequate power in the mountains.... as do I.

I don't mean to be excessively negative, but you really should have bought the 3.6R...... You will have long lasting trouble on the Colorado Plateau - your little four banger will be putting out about 110 bhp at 10,000 feet. To say that your car will be struggling would be an serious understatement. You will have to flog it on every grade, and that is really hard on the car and your own peace of mind.

For the midwest flatlands (low altitude and full rated engine power), and an occasional trip to the Smokies, you should have no problems if you keep the load reasonable. A summer trip to the Rockies is a whole 'nother ball game, in terms of equipment needed. Even full sized pickups with gas engines struggle there, which is why turbo diesels rule in the mountains. Read this and weep: ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_mountain_passes

If you are serious about towing in Colorado, then you should seriously think about trading that new car back in for one with the power you need. Or plan on leaving the camper at home and just tent camp or stay in motels.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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subiesailor speaks well - load your rig lightly! He used to drive an old Land Cruiser, so he knows about struggling with inadequate power in the mountains.... as do I.

I don't mean to be excessively negative, but you really should have bought the 3.6R...... You will have long lasting trouble on the Colorado Plateau - your little four banger will be putting out about 100 bhp at 10,000 feet. To say that your car will be struggling would be an serious understatement. You will have to flog it on every grade, and that is really hard on the car.

For the midwest flatlands (low altitude and full rated engine power), and an occasional trip to the Smokies, you should have no problems if you keep the load reasonable. A summer trip to the Rockies is a whole 'nother ball game, in terms of equipment needed. Even full sized pickups with gas engines struggle there, which is why turbo diesels rule in the mountains. Read this and weep: ... Colorado mountain passes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Comparison between the supercharged Verado and normally aspirated Mercury engines at different altitudes: Verado Altitude Calculator | Mercury Marine

If you are serious about towing two miles up, then you should seriously think about trading that new car back in for one with the power you need. Or plan on leaving the camper at home and just stay in motels.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
I miss that old truck it may have been heavy and short on power but it had a radiator big enough for a Semi you could do 45mph in 113degree heat hauling a heavy pile of gear up some of the worst climbs on the west coast and run the AC all day with out so much as a jiggle in the temp reading. The Subaru does not work that way sadly it is a car regarding cooling capacity and its geared tall for car type use which means you just need to be smart about your trailer choices regarding weight and drag vs your passengers and packed gear weights.
 

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On the tongue weight a Jayco 806 camper shows a "hitch weight" of 180 lbs which with a max of 200 thats cutting it close. The others I have looked at are in the 130 lb range on the tongue weight. I had no idea they had fiberglass propane tanks. I will look into that. Regarding the hitches I kept hearing people talk about removing the back bumper. Do you find that hitch dealers will do that or is it mainly the do it yourselfers that find that to be the best method? On the 2" vs 1-1/4 I know what you mean, but we have some accessories, i.e. a bike rack with a 1-1/4 that we would like to use. Is one any stronger than the other? Regarding the speed and the tongue weight we would probably not go over 65 in most cases, but if I woould hit I70 and go to Colorado we would get blown off the road going 65! so I would probably need to cruise at 70+
They do not have fiberglass tanks, all that is is a fibreglass cover for stones:eek:
 

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Metal tank vs fiberglass the fiberglass would be heavier by the way. You can go with a slightly smaller can to be lighter. Yes they sell slightly smaller gas cans. Or you can simply go without the can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the insight guys. I may look at the tent trailer idea again, but without the mattresses being intact it really is not any more convenient than just throwing the tent in the cargo hold! What about the Livinlite Quicksilver 8? I believe dry it is 998 lbs! As you said before Subiesailor I know you answered me before but the way they advertise the vehicle as being one to be able to haul 2700 lbs. Imagine how many boneheads actually do that and are stranded on Vail Pass in CO with a broken down vehicle at the rest area at the top? I actually used one of the tongue platforms with our Honda CRV and it screwed with the braking severely. 98% of the time the vehicle will not be towing which is why we opted for the 2.5i Nothing against the 3.6R, but we probably would have went with a larger vehicle if wwe would have been ok with 24-25 mpg hwy. Thanks for the idea about the Tent Trailer as well as the Quicksilver. Another option would be to rent a Ford F150 with a V6 from Hertz LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Im glad I joined this forum. Tough breaks on research pursuits are better than tough breaks on the road!
 

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but the way they advertise the vehicle as being one to be able to haul 2700 lbs. Imagine how many boneheads actually do that and are stranded on Vail Pass in CO with a broken down vehicle at the rest area at the top?
The factory trailer tow ratings are VERY misleading. If you expect to have a 30% decrease in engine power at the highest elevation of a trip, you should down-rate the max trailer weight by the same amount. Suddenly your 2700 "max" load is now 1890 pounds.

They don't mention that anywhere in the Owner's Manual, do they?

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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Thanks for the insight guys. I may look at the tent trailer idea again, but without the mattresses being intact it really is not any more convenient than just throwing the tent in the cargo hold! What about the Livinlite Quicksilver 8? I believe dry it is 998 lbs! As you said before Subiesailor I know you answered me before but the way they advertise the vehicle as being one to be able to haul 2700 lbs. Imagine how many boneheads actually do that and are stranded on Vail Pass in CO with a broken down vehicle at the rest area at the top? I actually used one of the tongue platforms with our Honda CRV and it screwed with the braking severely. 98% of the time the vehicle will not be towing which is why we opted for the 2.5i Nothing against the 3.6R, but we probably would have went with a larger vehicle if wwe would have been ok with 24-25 mpg hwy. Thanks for the idea about the Tent Trailer as well as the Quicksilver. Another option would be to rent a Ford F150 with a V6 from Hertz LOL
Hiker what I learned we went from 4 man tent which was just the wife and I on a airmat to a huge Dome tent with screened in front porch which is roughly 18ft by 14ft foot print awesome tent! Except its a rare case to find a campsite with that big of a flat spot for it. Hmm also it was a bit of a challenge to set up two adults needed which means no one to watch the kids and it took some time to set up. Awesome tent though!

My first reason for getting the compact tent trailer was we sold our 21ft racing sailboat and when we went camping it went with us. So we had plenty of space to put extra camping stuff. No boat all of a sudden bikes - kids wagon - grandma's tent and sleeping bag etc all had to stay home. So first fix was finding a trailer which would enable us to haul all our crap and fit everyone in the car.
The second part of the plan was with a dedicated camp trailer I could have it all pre packed so all we had to do is grab an ice chest our clothes hook the trailer to the car and go!

Here is the part about the beds and set up. Our tent trailer gets set up by me solo takes me about 10 minutes. The beds and the pads take about 30 seconds to put into place (THEY ARE FLAT lack rocks and roots under them!) Big bonus! YAY.. Also by being up off the ground in a very heavy 3mill plastic backed canvas you can sleep through major thunderstorms with no worries about waking up to a tent full of water been there done that.

However some things to think about. There are "Tent Trailers" then there are RV's with Tent sides. We have an actual Tent trailer - it is a Utility trailer with a tent packed in a heavy rubber coated bag which you unzip flip out each side extend two poles and then hook a couple of straps to the trailer frame- bed pads are stored on what is the floor you simply toss the pads up on the bed frames and your done. No furniture, no sink, no shower or toilet etc. The tent beds are raised about 2ft off the 4x6 floor area and have privacy curtains both beds are queen size lots of space.

The Quicksilver 8.0 is very much like our tent trailer only you have the option to add a nice cabinet even a sink if you want. The 8ft floor which I think is 6ft wide is big! You can set up a cot or even a bunk cot system and still have two empty and large sleeping areas.

This is what I'm thinking for the future now that I've seen a bunk bed cot.
Cabela's: Disc-O-Bed Cam-O-Cot Bunk Beds
The kids get one side of the tent trailer ie one queen bed - I'm thinking this bunk bed cot sitting on the queen bed turns the queen bed into a full on bedroom for the kids. Mom and dad get the other half and the main floor remains open. This set up would also allow for a 3rd kid in the queen sized bedroom.

IF that is a big IF - we ended up with a grand parent that was going to sleep in the tent trailer - that bunk bed cot could get put on the main floor and the grand parent could get a whole private queen bed all to them selves. All of this easily fitting into the 4x6 rig we have.

So I think you will find that the Quick Silver 8.0 would actually be plenty of space once you start thinking creatively about space and what you need etc. And yes sleeping up off the ground is WAY better than on the ground.
By the way I added Costco memory foam toppers to our beds in the tent trailer. The same toppers you buy for your bed at home. The tent trailer beds are pure heaven after a long day playing hard.
 

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Thanks for the insight guys. I may look at the tent trailer idea again, but without the mattresses being intact it really is not any more convenient than just throwing the tent in the cargo hold! What about the Livinlite Quicksilver 8? I believe dry it is 998 lbs! As you said before Subiesailor I know you answered me before but the way they advertise the vehicle as being one to be able to haul 2700 lbs. Imagine how many boneheads actually do that and are stranded on Vail Pass in CO with a broken down vehicle at the rest area at the top? I actually used one of the tongue platforms with our Honda CRV and it screwed with the braking severely. 98% of the time the vehicle will not be towing which is why we opted for the 2.5i Nothing against the 3.6R, but we probably would have went with a larger vehicle if wwe would have been ok with 24-25 mpg hwy. Thanks for the idea about the Tent Trailer as well as the Quicksilver. Another option would be to rent a Ford F150 with a V6 from Hertz LOL
LOL Hiker we are the same as you only have been doing this for a long time our prior camping car was a 2.5L 5spd MT 2001 Legacy GT Limited we towed our racing boat with that car too! That boat was 600lbs however the old 2001 subarus had very weak cooling capacity but the 2.5 engine was not much different regarding power.

An average year before the kids we were towing about 4000 miles year around between San Diego and Seattle racing our smaller sailboat at regattas and 95% of the time those were events where you camped. We got a larger and much faster racing boat 1700lbs which we still towed with the Legacy but long trips I and the boat were the only one's with that car and my wife would follow with her car packed with all the stuff. The old legacy just could not handle the hot outside temps and anything beyond just the boat and me (It lacked cooling capacity)

The 2010 OB IS WAY WAY better on cooling capacity however the power and capability of hauling the weight is pretty much the same as the old legacy we had. So we could haul the boat and everyone + our gear on short trips with zero issues but NO WAY would the OB haul 1700lbs + everyone + gear which rough figuring we were 2500lbs easy up to some of the lakes we go to during the summers where the outside temps are over 100 and you climb 8000-9000 ft in a distance of 20 miles. But we knew this given our experience growing our boats - gear and family with the old car and found out there really are places you will not want to go when your packing 1500+lbs of trailer + gear + people ;-)

So that was why I put our 1200lb limit on our camping rig during our shopping effort. I know the 2.5 OB will go anywhere and be just fine and happy with all our crap and the trailer ha ha. By the way we replaced out old Land Cruiser which did that hot and hard climb once a year - we bought a 07 Toyota Sequoia which is used to haul two grand parents - two kids and mom and dad around. However 99.9% of the time we do road trips its just Mom, Dad and the two kids so the 2.5 OB is our primary road trip car and camping rig. We get 21mpg in the hills with the 4x6 890lb trailer at 60-65mph and we get about 23-25mpg on the flats 65-70mph. The 1700lb racing boat same car I got 16-17mpg on the flats towing at 70mph. So that gives you an idea where the fuel burn starts to happen on the car also. That boat by the way sat low and was about as tall as the roof line on the OB and the boat was very sleek with a sleek cabin top and deck not open like a power boat. So its wind drag factor wouldn't be all that different than some of these larger and wide heavy pop top type trailers.
 

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Hiker here are some picts for ya
The boat owned it from 98 to 2010 with option to buy it back when the current owner is done having fun with it. Awesome boat! built by a legendary builder in Santa Cruz CA
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This is our camping rig - headed to Humbolt Avenue of the Giants AKA the Huge Redwoods in CA. Dog stayed home with Grand parents on this trip.
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The packing effort was a bit on the lazy side no roof box - and three bundles of wood in the green tarp on the trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Nice rig for the boat. Really nice boat. The tent trailer is really cool. Do you just use conventional air mattresses in the tent? When I looked at them online they only had platforms for twin size. How to you get queen size on both ends?
 

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You'll never have to do 70+ MPH. You won't be blown off of any roads. People might pass you, but that's okay.
 

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Nice rig for the boat. Really nice boat. The tent trailer is really cool. Do you just use conventional air mattresses in the tent? When I looked at them online they only had platforms for twin size. How to you get queen size on both ends?
They changed the design maybe two months ago. Ours is the older model it has two queen bed frames. With 2 inch foam pads. Life time website still shows the older model. Might be possible to still get it. The new one is all wrong including the tall sides in trailer mode. They raised the price too.
 

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check out these

Check out the Livinlite Quiksilver campers or Sylvan Go, both are lighter more versatile options than a pop up that can be towed by about any car but you won't have any problem with a hard shell pop up either.
 
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