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Old 09-05-2019, 10:53 AM   #1
teacherman
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Well, here goes...

OK. I have learned so much since I joined this forum the other day. This is great.

So, here goes with some of my questions:

I had pretty much settled on a Keystone, based on ratings and a buddy's recommendations, as well as the floor plan of the Hideout 31RBDS. I bought my truck with an eye to doing this, and retirement has come a bit sooner than I thought it would. That's OK, believe me I am well out of warranty, and swinging around in the trees with a lit chainsaw is not really a sextagenarian gig.

I want to keep the trailer under 10K gtw, being rated to pull 13k it seems within range of prudent. I had over 14.5K once with my dump trailer full of just over 5 tons of gravel, and it pulled surprisingly well up some good hills, so it seems 10K would work. Trying to keep it with this truck, because I like it and this is what I have.

I've read that over 28 feet the trailer should be a fifth wheel, but others tell me a TT with an LDH does just fine. I want to buy one RV trailer rather than experimenting experientially (I've paid enough tuition over the years, LOL), so I plan on researching this as long as necessary to try to get it right the first time.

I have come up with a list of gotta-haves:

Outdoor kitchen.
Separate room for our five year old son (bunkhouse), rather than just a folding sofa.
Cold weather prep package for winter use or at least storing it when we move to New Hampshire next year.
Durable, reliable slideout mechanism.
Separate exit from the bathroom makes a lot of sense to me.
Solar prep wiring would be nice, as would a place to keep a quiet-ish generator.

I wanted to keep it a TT to hold on to my bed space, but perhaps a 5th wheel might have added space for bikes and canoes... I know a box can be built to store things forward of the 5th wheel hitch, which in my truck looks to be a quick switchout process, so maybe a 5th wheel is the way to go, esp. if it's more stable on the road. I have a nice trifold bed cover, but I believe it could stay if folded up when pulling the beast.

I'd set a general price guideline of about $20K, knowing it's like a boat, and it only goes up from there once I'm in it. Found a 2017 31RBDS 250 miles away that looks to be a good price, though a pricier 2019 has a sturdier looking front panel. I want something I can maintain for at least a while, and I don't mind buying used as long as I know what to look out for.

I'll shut up now. Thank you in advance for advice and suggestions!
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:27 PM   #2
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Well, here goes...

My thoughts, after 30 yrs of RVing and 7 yrs of working on them.

Outside kitchen: very popular, but a whole new set of issues to deal with. I see delimitation on wood/composite counters, compartment doors leak, plumbing that leaks and sinks that drain onto the ground not a holding tank.

I carry a Camp Chef 3 burner stove with a cast iron griddle and a dedicated 30lb propane cylinder, I only cook inside if the weather dictates.

Exit door in the bathroom: rare so it will severely limit your choices. Two separate entrances/exits is more common and you might want to look for that feature more than a specific bathroom exit.

Bunk/bed separated by a door: not that common as it seems all the manufacturers like to use curtains. You can get a separate bedroom in a bigger fifth wheel.

IMO fifth wheels tow easier, track better (no sway) and can be turned sharper with the right truck. Iíve done without a full bed since my first fiver in Ď89, you get used to it. I did carry a 3500W gen and the ďtop boxĒ of my tool box across the US twice, so you donít lose all the space.

Solar prep: unless itís new, most solar prep is for a small (10W) system, solar is easy to install and a PM to yours truly can go a long way.

Slideout: as long as it ISNT cable, the other types are extremely reliable. Cable isnít the evil itís made out to be by some, but it takes some extra work to keep it operating correctly.

Hope Iíve given you a starting point, feel free to PM me with any concerns or questions. Iím not the expert by far, but I can say I have been exposed to more than my share of brands and issues.
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Old 09-05-2019, 03:34 PM   #3
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Is this the trailer you are interested in:
https://www.rvtrader.com/listing/201...BDS-5008344530

Looks like it ticks a lot of your boxes. I am not sure about the length and weight but a 3/4 ton should have no difficulty dragging the thing around. We have owned quite a few trailers and I have no negative issues with a bumper pull. Main advantage is you can stand up in the bathroom. I think the ideal length for a bumper pull for us would be in the just over 30' length but we don't have a kiddo. I like the ability to shut doors on the bedroom as I am an early riser and the missus not so much. I also know if I was camping with a kid and the kiddo was sleeping on a couch, that would limit early rising and coffee drinking unless you remember to drug the youngster before they hit the sack.

I like to sit across from the TV when on the couch but that spinner TV could be a good solution. My wife really would like to have a bigger bathroom but loves our rear kitchen with a ton of counter space and big pantry. All in all, that bunk house you have your eye on looks like a good choice. There WILL be things that bug you but that is always the case so you compromise on little features to get most of the biggies! Good luck.
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Old 09-05-2019, 03:35 PM   #4
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Oh that "over 28' should be a 5ver" ... well everyone has an opinion but in my HUMBLE opinion that is crap based on personal experience.
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Old 09-05-2019, 04:52 PM   #5
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Is this the trailer you are interested in:
https://www.rvtrader.com/listing/201...BDS-5008344530

Looks like it ticks a lot of your boxes. I am not sure about the length and weight but a 3/4 ton should have no difficulty dragging the thing around. We have owned quite a few trailers and I have no negative issues with a bumper pull. Main advantage is you can stand up in the bathroom. I think the ideal length for a bumper pull for us would be in the just over 30' length but we don't have a kiddo. I like the ability to shut doors on the bedroom as I am an early riser and the missus not so much. I also know if I was camping with a kid and the kiddo was sleeping on a couch, that would limit early rising and coffee drinking unless you remember to drug the youngster before they hit the sack.

I like to sit across from the TV when on the couch but that spinner TV could be a good solution. My wife really would like to have a bigger bathroom but loves our rear kitchen with a ton of counter space and big pantry. All in all, that bunk house you have your eye on looks like a good choice. There WILL be things that bug you but that is always the case so you compromise on little features to get most of the biggies! Good luck.
Yup, that's the one I've been eying. It looks good, low miles, no leaks, price seems right. Main concern is that this is so early in my search process that I'm afraid of jumping at a chance without educating myself. Presumably this has the cold weather treatment, even though the ad doesn't say so, but that can be confirmed easily enough. The other mfr I was considering was a Jayco, which supposedly hold up well and are a good value used, but they seem so light it's hard to believe they'd be durable.

We never watch teevee, so turning our head to watch it wouldn't really be a concern. Having a kiddo has really changed how we live; it's like being in a reeducation camp where the five year-old commandant dishes out several lessons a day! I do like the bunkhouse to hold a couple of his buddies if we want, though the truck can only carry so many people..
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Old 09-05-2019, 04:56 PM   #6
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If you stay at 10k or so gvw your truck will be fine.

I pull a TT. I've towed a 5th wheel but it belonged to a friend. It pulled differently but I've pulled bumper pulls for so long they're second nature to me; this one is about 37' long. Limiting a TT to 28' is silly. Lots of them out there that are longer and, to me, are no issue pulling, backing etc. I will say that the 5th wheel is not as susceptible to sway but with an adequate truck (the truck/trailer combo you list should be) and a good wdh/sway control you will be just fine and have no problems.

5th wheels transfer more weight to the truck making payload/axle limits more important, especially in a 3/4 ton - the hitch is generally much heavier. We just haven't warmed up to a 5th wheel even after looking at literally hundreds with the intention to buy one.

The exterior door to the bathroom might come in handy, I don't know; never had one nor wanted one as I recall. Slide mechanisms come in all kinds. I've never had cable slides until this one and they haven't given us any trouble with the exception of taking it in for "slide maintenance" at the dealership and then having to redo everything that was done. The other types didn't give us any trouble either but I've read about issues with all of them.

Outdoor kitchen - I haven't had one because we don't want one. I saw one camping (friend of a friend) and the guy "loved" cooking on that outdoor stove hooked to the trailer. It looked like it had enough grunge on everything around it that you could never get it off. I FAR prefer to carry my cooking gear, set it up AWAY from the side of the trailer, then cook/fry/smoke/bbq anything I want for as long as I want without the fear of messing up the side of the trailer - they're hard enough to keep up anyway. I like the idea of an outdoor fridge but not at the expense of having to have an outdoor stove, plus, we carry ice chests regardless.

Like you, I like my bed space and have a lockable, folding hard cover on it; excellent, safe, weatherproof storage - won't leave home without it.

As far as buying your last trailer first all I can say is spend a lot of time looking at them...hands on. Not having owned a trailer before it may be hard to know what you want until you've experienced some of the things you will come across in an RV. If you're serious about this particular trailer make a list(s) - what will you be doing in the trailer? Try it out inside it. Cooking - how/what do you cook? Where will you put the utensils? Knives? Cookware? What kind of cookware? Air fryer? Induction cookers? Pressure cooker? Crock Pot? What about counter space?

One of the top criteria I have is being able to see the TV while cooking in the kitchen. The reason is that I don't usually cook inside, but if I do, it's because we have inclement weather and I'll probably be watching a movie while "whupping up something" - this one swivels and extends so works out great.

We generally stay for an extended period so I/we like the full front closet a bed slide provides. We don't like the little wardrobe cubbyholes on the sides of the bed or stuck in a small slide - but I'm sure they work for others.

That's just a quick rundown of some things I think of....more or less.
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Old 09-05-2019, 05:31 PM   #7
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Look at the Cougar 29BHS. This fits with many of your wants and needs. The price for a new one will be over 20k but under 30k with the right negotiations. You can get a good deal on 2019 models now. Good luck!
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Old 09-05-2019, 06:16 PM   #8
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A quick review of the Hideout construction:

Wood Frame, aluminum siding, hand "stuffed" fiberglass insulation, "minimalist cost equipment" in an entry level trailer. that means, low cost construction, low cost equipment, few amenities, minimal "overbuild" in any of the trailer systems...

You made a comment that "the Jayco seems lighter". It's aluminum construction with fiberglass laminated walls, etc.

There's really no good way to compare one type of construction to another and have them "equal out on a scale of good to bad"....

As for the "polar package", "Arctic package", "cold weather protection package" or any other name the marketing section might give it, it's nothing more than a layer of bubble wrap and a 2" heat duct into the area around the holding tank valves to keep them from freezing. It works "extremely well" as long as the temperature stays above about 25F. Below that, all bets are off !!!! Remember, R7 walls, R14 floors and R25 ceilings do precious little when you have R1 windows in every room and 3 (or more) 14" square holes in the roof. There's no such thing as a "winter ready travel trailer" until you get into the "above 100K price range. All of us face the reality that camping in cold weather is expensive, impossible to do without shore power or a generator and even then, when the weather is bad, there's virtually NO space inside to "relax and ride it out" especially with a 5 year old sharing the space.....

I'm not trying to damper your plans, and I'm not suggesting that the Hideout line is any less functional than any other trailer brand, but you can't compare a Hideout wood frame trailer to a Jayco aluminum frame trailer and you "shouldn't wish for a cold weather package that's effective. Ain't gonna happen......
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Old 09-05-2019, 06:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRTJH View Post
A quick review of the Hideout construction:

Wood Frame, aluminum siding, hand "stuffed" fiberglass insulation, "minimalist cost equipment" in an entry level trailer. that means, low cost construction, low cost equipment, few amenities, minimal "overbuild" in any of the trailer systems...

You made a comment that "the Jayco seems lighter". It's aluminum construction with fiberglass laminated walls, etc.

There's really no good way to compare one type of construction to another and have them "equal out on a scale of good to bad"....

As for the "polar package", "Arctic package", "cold weather protection package" or any other name the marketing section might give it, it's nothing more than a layer of bubble wrap and a 2" heat duct into the area around the holding tank valves to keep them from freezing. It works "extremely well" as long as the temperature stays above about 25F. Below that, all bets are off !!!! Remember, R7 walls, R14 floors and R25 ceilings do precious little when you have R1 windows in every room and 3 (or more) 14" square holes in the roof. There's no such thing as a "winter ready travel trailer" until you get into the "above 100K price range. All of us face the reality that camping in cold weather is expensive, impossible to do without shore power or a generator and even then, when the weather is bad, there's virtually NO space inside to "relax and ride it out" especially with a 5 year old sharing the space.....

I'm not trying to damper your plans, and I'm not suggesting that the Hideout line is any less functional than any other trailer brand, but you can't compare a Hideout wood frame trailer to a Jayco aluminum frame trailer and you "shouldn't wish for a cold weather package that's effective. Ain't gonna happen......
Now that's the dose of reality I was hoping to get. So many factors to consider, and I'd forgotten about aluminum frames. I've got some more research to do, it seems. I know the cold weather package is no panacea, buit I suspect it's better than none at all.
We go look at some models this Saturday.

Thank you, JRJTH!
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:45 AM   #10
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Don't limit yourself to only bunkhouses. Many you haulers will also accomplish your goals.
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Old 09-06-2019, 05:31 AM   #11
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I have an exterior door to our bathroom on our bunkhouse camper. I like it because it helps keep some of the foot traffic from the main entrance going thru the camper to get to the bathroom.

Our bunkroom is one of the two slides on this model, which creates enough room for at least 4 children back there, but it is only a curtain that separates that area.

We do not have an interior television as we are not at the age that being inside while camping is something we are interested in.

There is a television in the outdoor kitchen area, that also has a small fridge. No cooking area. I also like to set up other cooking apparatus' slightly away from the camper.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:47 AM   #12
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The difference between "living" in a RV & "camping" in a RV are 2 totally different lifestyles. For a while at first it will feel as if you're "camping" but if the weather is undesirable & stuck indoors, especially with little ones, it's not "camping" anymore & gets very small very quickly.
As to a toy hauler rather a bunkhouse, I'd chose the BH, the TH room always feels to industrial to be living quarters & usually bigger space than the other living area with usually the TV mounted way up high.
Just my .02 cents!
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:08 PM   #13
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I really appreciate everyone taking time to share knowledge and experience. My thinking has gotten a bit clearer as to what I can expect and what to look for.

I got to thinking that a walkable roof might need to be on my list, for reasons of repairability if nothing else. I suppose I could hang from a high limb in my tree harness if I'm so situated, but how else could I clean and maintain my own roof if I can't be up there on it?
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:12 PM   #14
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Generally accepted rule is if it has a ladder itís a walkable roof. You can always use 4X4 thin wood or styrofoam mats to spread the load.
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Old 09-06-2019, 03:13 PM   #15
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A couple of thoughts after reading through the thread and the advice you've received so far.

If you are serious about wanting to consider "winter" camping a trailer with slides will make that more of a challenge for a few reasons: more exterior surface area per square foot; the insulation in the slide walls, floor, and roof has a lower R value than the main body of the trailer; and you have a gap around the slide with NO insulation, just rubber gaskets. A longer trailer can give you the same square footage and be easier to heat (or cool), but they don't feel as spacious because there entire box is only eight feet wide.

Speaking of longer trailers, if you plan to spend a lot of time in national parks you may want to limit the length because many have length limits.

You also mentioned wanting something durable. In "light weight" trailers the floor is typically a sandwich of thin plywood, foam, and another layer of thin plywood. They seem to be especially susceptible to water damage. Some trailers have a product called Azdel in the sidewalls. A sheet of plastic replaces the luan making it less susceptible to water damage. Unfortunately, I don't know if any trailers that use it in the floor construction. If anyone else in the thread does I'd love to know about it.

Finally, you mentioned storing the trailer in New Hampshire. That's another reason for a walkable roof, they can carry a heavier snow load.

Good luck with your search.
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Old 09-06-2019, 03:15 PM   #16
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Don't limit yourself to only bunkhouses. Many you haulers will also accomplish your goals.
His kiddo is 5 years old and top bunk up some ladder doesn't seem like a great idea. I can't recall our kids too much at that age but the lower bunk seems like a better idea. I do recall most bunkhouse upper bunks lack anything to keep a child from falling out.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:15 AM   #17
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I have an exterior door to our bathroom on our bunkhouse camper. I like it because it helps keep some of the foot traffic from the main entrance going thru the camper to get to the bathroom.

Our bunkroom is one of the two slides on this model, which creates enough room for at least 4 children back there, but it is only a curtain that separates that area.

We do not have an interior television as we are not at the age that being inside while camping is something we are interested in.

There is a television in the outdoor kitchen area, that also has a small fridge. No cooking area. I also like to set up other cooking apparatus' slightly away from the camper.
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelin texans View Post
The difference between "living" in a RV & "camping" in a RV are 2 totally different lifestyles. For a while at first it will feel as if you're "camping" but if the weather is undesirable & stuck indoors, especially with little ones, it's not "camping" anymore & gets very small very quickly.
As to a toy hauler rather a bunkhouse, I'd chose the BH, the TH room always feels to industrial to be living quarters & usually bigger space than the other living area with usually the TV mounted way up high.
Just my .02 cents!
Quote:
Originally Posted by chuckster57 View Post
Generally accepted rule is if it has a ladder itís a walkable roof. You can always use 4X4 thin wood or styrofoam mats to spread the load.
Quote:
Originally Posted by compeakw View Post
A couple of thoughts after reading through the thread and the advice you've received so far.

If you are serious about wanting to consider "winter" camping a trailer with slides will make that more of a challenge for a few reasons: more exterior surface area per square foot; the insulation in the slide walls, floor, and roof has a lower R value than the main body of the trailer; and you have a gap around the slide with NO insulation, just rubber gaskets. A longer trailer can give you the same square footage and be easier to heat (or cool), but they don't feel as spacious because there entire box is only eight feet wide.

Speaking of longer trailers, if you plan to spend a lot of time in national parks you may want to limit the length because many have length limits.

You also mentioned wanting something durable. In "light weight" trailers the floor is typically a sandwich of thin plywood, foam, and another layer of thin plywood. They seem to be especially susceptible to water damage. Some trailers have a product called Azdel in the sidewalls. A sheet of plastic replaces the luan making it less susceptible to water damage. Unfortunately, I don't know if any trailers that use it in the floor construction. If anyone else in the thread does I'd love to know about it.

Finally, you mentioned storing the trailer in New Hampshire. That's another reason for a walkable roof, they can carry a heavier snow load.

Good luck with your search.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wiredgeorge View Post
His kiddo is 5 years old and top bunk up some ladder doesn't seem like a great idea. I can't recall our kids too much at that age but the lower bunk seems like a better idea. I do recall most bunkhouse upper bunks lack anything to keep a child from falling out.
Many thanks for the sage advice. I think I lean toward holding out to find one that has the polymer sidewalls, plywood rather than waferboard in the floors, and a sturdy roof. We won't be full-timers; the idea is to have a place to live while I a) fix up our house and the epoxy polymer needs two days to dry, b) we relocate to NH and we're looking for a new house near the Commandant's new school, in hopes of not having to "move" twice, with Pods in storage for a modest fee, while wrangling a kid and a surprisingly strong chocolate lab, and c) an escape abode when I have to refinish the floors in our new house.

Then comes the RV-ing. The idea of the Commandant having his own dedicated bedroom might have to go away once I research the national park length limits. The idea of a nearly-semi length rig rolling up the mountain roads in, say, Highlands, NC or any place much like it seems rather less than "vacationary" as well. That uniquely American ideal of "having it all" is, I suppose, best left in the daydream stage. I rode my HD Road King (traded for a Subaru a few years back) up Pike's Peak and down the Tail of the Dragon in 2011, and...

Good point on the upper bunk. He's been climbing stepladders since he was one, but a five foot drop while asleep is not a feat I wish to encourage in the least!

I chose to pass on the Hideout, though it is still for sale, and looks to be an excellent deal. Hard, but best to be informed. The DW looked up campground rates and pointed out it ain't cheap to park 'em, either.

I'll keep looking into this, and even if it doesn't end up a Keystone, I'll keep ye posted! I really do appreciate the feedback and sharing of experience.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:46 AM   #18
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If you're really not sure, maybe try looking to rent similar models on Outdoorsy. or other rental sites. It's just an option to get a feel for towing, size, and configuration.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:47 AM   #19
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I don't use our outdoor kitchen for the same reason sourdough mentioned... so it's basically wasted space. Also plan on adding 3" mattress pads/toppers (or replacing the mattresses all together) to the list of additional items you'll want to buy. The ones that come with the trailer are about a 1/2 step above sleeping on the ground. Good luck!
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:04 AM   #20
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I had the trailer you want. Keystone Cougar 2017 31sqbwe. It was a fantastic trailer, bunk house with a door, outside access from the bathroom (with kids and dogs that becomes important), outside kitchen, solar ready, cable ready and polar package. We traded it in as our grandkids didn't always come with us and so that bunkhouse was wasted space for us. I miss most the outside access from the bathroom as we still have two dogs. We used that as kind of a mud room as we have hunting dogs and therefore mud!
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