New Popup Suggestions

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by blandrp, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. blandrp

    blandrp New Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Franklin, TN
    My wife and I had really wanted to buy a hybrid type travel trailer, but when we started looking we found that most if not all are too heavy to be pulled by our new Toyota Sienna. Instead we've started looking into some popups and have found a few that are interesting. I'd appreciate people's suggestions on what to look for that might get us close to a hybrid camper experience. Some that we've looked into are the Flagstaff HW27SC, HW25SC, and the Palomino Elite. I think that a high wall model appeals to us more because it is a bit more like a hybrid. Are there any drawbacks to high wall models that I should consider?

    Another question that I have has to do with the towing capacity of my Sienna. It is rated at 3500 lbs, but what should be the max weight of a popup that I should consider. One salesman told me to assume 150 lbs per adult per week and 30 lbs per child per week for the extra weight on top of the dry weight. I have 2 children so based on that should I be able to safely get any camper that is less than 3500 - 150 - 150 - 30 - 30 = 3140 lbs?

    Are there some brands that are "better" than other brands? It seems that Coleman/Fleetwood is one of the most popular, but are the necessarily the best to consider? Are there some features that I should definitely consider from one company as opposed to another?

    Is there any advantage to purchasing a new camper instead of a used one? Should I only consider used campers because of the depreciation they've already experienced. For example, a dealer near me has both a new and a used 2008 Flagstaff HW27SC listed at 16,600 and 12,500 respectively. I'm sure they'll negotiate down from there but am I potentially looking at issues buying a used camper that I'm not aware of?

    Thanks for all the help!
  2. Frances

    Frances New Member

    Jan 9, 2009
    Central Florida
    Hi. We just bought a used (new to us) 2000 Coleman Taos. Very small box, but perfect for two almost empty nesters. We intentionally bought used -- for $$ reasons but also because we weren't sure if the novelty of camping would stick or wear off.

    We looked at about 25 used campers in the space of 2 days after doing tons of on-line research, plus talking to lots of our "camping" friends. Lots of strong recommendations for Coleman/Fleetwood. Also, lots of "lurking" on this site, reading up on everyone's problems, modifications, etc. :)

    After looking at USED campers, I have to say that the Coleman/Fleetwoods definitely seemed to hold up better. Especially some of the metal parts, which are stainless steel and don't corrode like some of the other brands we looked at.

    That being said -- we looked at some DOG used campers. Lots of water/mildew damage, horribly dinged up counters and cabinets. It was a real education to spend 2 days visiting big lots and looking at so many used campers. I would highly recommend this -- even if you plan to buy NEW -- I think it will help you discover the things that are most vulnerable in a PUP.

    After looking, we realized that some things we thought mattered to us really didn't. We also started to get very savvy about what to look at -- the quality of the canvas, the cabinets, etc. We could look past certain cosmetic things because we are both very handy and we knew what we could/couldn't fix ourselves.

    A couple of days later, we happened upon a newly-posted Craigs List ad for an 8-year-old camper in a nearby town. We went to look at it, and it was PERFECT for us. Looked like it had hardly been used. Because it was so small, probably wouldn't appeal to most people but just perfect for the 2 of us.

    If we had seen this BEFORE our 2-day whirlwind "shopping" excursion, I'm not sure we would have realized that it was meant for us. But we love it. Went camping right after Christmas, it was perfect. Going again this weekend (gotta live living in Florida!) and have 2 more trips booked for this spring.

    Sorry for long post, but I think even if you do buy new, it will serve you well to do some "used" shopping. See what is out there. Learn where the problem spots are and what goes wrong first in the used campers. Plus, like us, you may find a real sweet deal!

    Me '58 and DH '48
    2000 Coleman Taos, 2005 Toyota Tacoma
    14' Old Town tandem kayak

    Edited by - Frances on January 21 2009 15:50:11
  3. fishguy1313

    fishguy1313 New Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    It is a risk buying anything used. However, campers don't get used much so some you will find used, will have little wear and tear. I bought an 05 Fleetwood/Used in Nov. last year. It has been used little and in great shape. If you buy used, just assure everything works when you purchase and you'll be fine.

    I've never seen a Fleetwood Highwall in person, but if I was going to buy new, I would definitely look at these first. They look awesome!!!

    2002 Chevy Blazer - Tow Vehicle
    2005 Fleetwood Utah - Pop Up
  4. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

    May 20, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    I like the Coleman/Fleetwood for several reasons. One is the Sunbrella tent material. It is ultra-durable and breathes well to reduce condensation. These campers also have very strong steel frames and have breathable engineered wood for the floor and bunkend bottoms to help prevent rot.

    1998 Explorer Sport & 2007 Fleetwood Yuma

    Edited by - Unstable_Tripod on January 21 2009 16:11:16
  5. mostlyok

    mostlyok We're Mostly OK!

    Jun 5, 2005
    Sarasota, Florida
    We researched the Fleetwood High-wall models when we were looking for an upgrade from our old Starcraft. They are nice in that you don't have to 'hide the kitchen' when the top is down. They generally have a bigger fridge, and some come with full ovens as well as a stove.

    As to the camper weight, the 3140 pounds would include the PU, and everything you carry in it. Bedding, Propane, any water, your clothes, cookware, utensils, and that roll of TP. To be save try to stay 300 lbs or more below that 3140 figure. That means looking at Popups around 27-2800 lbs. Also check on tongue weight capability on the Sienna. The PU should be within that limit too, for safe towing.

    Heidi & Paul '04 Fleetwood Niagara (The Cottage)
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_jeep.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Jeep"> '05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
    If its got zippers and Velcro it's got to be fun!
  6. 14erfam

    14erfam Member

    Oct 12, 2008
    You'll probably get varied opinions on this as some people can mod their tow vehicles. However, its generally best practice to never tow more than about 2/3 of the max tow rating of the vehicle. There are some adjustments you can make like not filling the water tank before towing, making sure the camper is empty, etc.

    As per brands, I also heavily favor the coleman/fleetwoods for their steel frame cabinetry, breathable wood and fabric. The uprights are also engineered to drain water through straight to the ground. Many other brands have covers that go over the uprights to prevent water from draining into the camper.

    One drawback on the colemans, watch for the ABS roofs pre 2003. About 10% of them are reported to sag or delaminate.

    <b><i><font color=blue>Mike and Bonnie </b></i></font id=blue>
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle">2001 Dodge Dakota 4x4 QC
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp">2002 Coleman/Fleetwood Cheyenne
  7. pianewman

    pianewman Ft. Worth, TX

    Aug 30, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    Welcome to the portal. We have wanted a highwall Fleetwood for some time now, but no way towing with a Odyssey/Sienna...they're much too heavy.
    14erfam is correct. 2/3 of "max tow rating" is the safe limit.
    The 3500 limit in your manual excludes ALL passengers/cargo in the van. The practical limit (100%) is around 2600 lbs.
    I towed my 2550 lb. popup 20k miles+ with 01 and 07 Honda Odysseys (rear airbags, weight distribution hitch...2 adults, 2 children, age 6 and 9). Always felt very solid, but...
    I won't do it again. I'm a fanatic about getting the most out of my rolling purchases, and I realize now that towing at 100% of the rated limit is not particularly safe, nor is it very good for the TV.
    Yes, you can do it, and short distances won't kill your Sienna, but ultimately, at 2500 lbs, you're just asking for problems.
    Siennas are even softer in the rear than Odysseys, so rear suspension assist is a must with all but the smallest (lightest tongue) pups.
    Hope I've not burst your balloon, and good luck with your choice.

    2002 Fleetwood Santa Fe (2550 lbs. loaded)
    2005 Toyota Tundra Double Cab Limited, 4.7 V-8, 4WD, Reese 400 WDH, A.R.E. bed cap
    Scangauge II
  8. bud121156

    bud121156 Western North Carolina

    Apr 15, 2007
    North Carolina
    I tow with a Ford Escape with the same 3500 lb weight limit. I have a Westlake model that is 2100 lbs empty. Don't know what my loaded weight is , but I am comfortable towing this rig. I may go 200-300 more lbs with say, a Bayside model, but no way would I want to tow a highwall model.

    North Carolina
    07 Fleetwood Westlake
  9. jewel99

    jewel99 New Member

    May 27, 2008
    Cambridge, Ontario
    Towing capacity is one of the hardest things to figure out for anyone new to towing. It took me a while to figure things out, and even now I'm still a little confused with some things, but I get the general gist of it, plus I try to stay well within the margin of safety.

    A few things to bear in mind:

    - Towing capacity is usually dependent on having an optional towing package installed (or doing something after market). This is NOT the same as just installing a hitch. Be sure that your vehicle has the upgrades to the coolant, etc. to be able to actually tow at the stated maximum.
    - Dry weight is the weight of the trailer - before any options (such as furnace, fridge, air conditioning, etc.) You need to add those into your weight calculations, or better yet - take the trailer to a weigh station and get the actual weight. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your trailer is how much the trailer can actually weigh, including the weight of the trailer, the options and any cargo you're carrying in the trailer, like camping supplies, bedding, dishes, food, water (water is HEAVY).
    - Then you need to figure out what your vehicle can safely tow, and you have to include the cargo in your tow vehicle (clothes, passengers, any camping supplies not transported in the trailer, etc). and also the combined weight rating of your vehicle (usually called GVCWR), which essentially is the combined maximum that your vehicle can tow, including the weight of the trailer, the cargo, the passengers and the actual weight of the tow vehicle itself.

    It can sound overwhelming, but once you track down the accurate numbers, there's actually some great spreadsheets that people have created so that you can just type in a few key numbers and it'll tell you how close you are to the combined ratings, etc. Most people recommend staying at 80%-90% of towing capacity (the lower the better).

    As an example, our old Freestar minivan had a tow rating of 3500 lbs. Our tent trailer had a dry weight of 1950 and a GVWR of 2950. We were safely at about 84% of tow capacity with this vehicle, especially as we don't travel with a full water tank, and there's only 3 in our family (vs. a family with 4 big teenagers). Our new vehicle can still safely tow our trailer, but because the combined weight rating of the new vehicle is actually lower, the numbers are a bit closer to the max, even though it's still capable of towing 3500 (technically).

    If you look in car brochures, they will often list the towing capacity of 3500 lbs and then put a little footnote that says something like "based on having one passenger weighing 150 lbs". It can be a bit misleading, so it pays to educate yourself and really look for the accurate numbers for your vehicle and any trailer you're considering.

    For us, we wanted to only look at trailers that had dry weights of under 2000 lbs and GVWRs of 2500 lbs to 3000 lbs (at the very max).

    High wall trailers are wonderful - but they can be pretty darned heavy and would probably exceed the safe towing capacity of your vehicle.

    Also - bear in mind that not all salespersons/dealers are really educated, or honest about towing capacities. Many will work with you to ensure you're safe and capable of towing what you're looking at, but many will just want to make the sale and will tell you whatever they think you want to hear. Don't rely on what the dealer tells you - it pays to crunch the numbers yourself.

    As for buying new vs. used, it all depends on what you're getting for what you're paying. New units come with warranties (not all warranties are transferrable on used units), and you can sometimes pick your own options, but you're getting hit with the depreciation - but some really feel it's worth it to buy new. Others would only consider buying a second hand unit. As long as it's well cared for, you can actually get a lot of bang for your buck with a used unit... and the previous owners might have done a lot of work adding in things or modifying stuff that gives you even more value for your money.

    In our situation, we bought new because the strength of the Cdn dollar last summer made it a very good deal and actually cheaper than a lot of second hand units that had been bought at very high prices and were being re-sold for close to, or more, than what we paid for a new unit. That situation doesn't exist anymore, nor is it applicable to anyone in the US, although I have no idea how prices are currently given the state of the economy.

    Sorry for the length of my reply - but hopefully it makes sense.

    Julie, '66, DH '66, DS '04
    Cambridge, Ontario
    2009 Jayco 1207 PUP (first ever PUP - Yippee!)
  10. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    Very well put Julie. She covered just about everything. another factor you need to consider is the tongue weight (the amount of weight you have on the hitch ball) You generally want this (and I know if Im wrong someone will correct me) to be minimum 10% of the trailers loaded weight and not more then 20%. At 20% your putting a lot of forces on that little ball. You also want to keep the drop or rise of your ball mount at a height that with the tow vehicle (TV) on level ground the trailer itself will be level or just a little nose down.


    2004 Palomino Mustang
    1992 GMC Ext. Cab (T.V)
    2008 Dodge Caliber Sunburst Orange
  11. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

    Feb 6, 2007
    Centerville, OH
    I will add, though I am sure that someone already said it, that the best trailer is the one with the floorplan that YOU like. It doesn't matter how nice or expensive (or cheap) a trailer or pup is if you don't like the floorplan.

    Floorplan is what got me into Palominos. Up until this model year they even had my floorplan in a highwall version. Figure out what you like in a floorplan then find the models that have that. For instance, my wife insisted when we were purchasing the current camper that it have booth seating for the table. She hated taking the table up and down and having to move around it when trying to get to the bed. So booth seating was something that I looked for.

    I have noted that Pals are some of the lighter pups on the market and Fleetwood/Coleman some of the heaviest. I am not saying that to put them down or anything. I like Coleman campers and have owned one. It's just that is something you will have to consider given that you could be limited in your tow capacity.

    2004 Expedition & 2000 Palomino Mustang SL-SG-FT
  12. Oysterpot

    Oysterpot New Member

    Feb 23, 2008
    Smithville, Tennessee

    I have a 2002 Coleman Bayside that is a whole lot cheaper than what you are looking at.

    It was listed in the for sale section.


    2002 Coleman Bayside
    TV Dodge Ram 1500
    1 Golden Retriever, 1 Yorkie
    Luv Black Iron
  13. sd102

    sd102 New Member

    Nov 7, 2007
    How much do the high wall ones weigh? I thought they were very heavy, they may even be heavier than some hybrids.

    2001 Coleman Utah
  14. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

    Feb 6, 2007
    Centerville, OH
    The Coleman Niagara has a GVWR of 3970 lbs. The Avalon is 4600 lbs and the Saratoga is 3500 lbs.

    Palomino's Elite 9149 has a GVWR of about 3400. Its floor plan is aproximately similar to a Niagara.

    2004 Expedition & 2000 Palomino Mustang SL-SG-FT

    Edited by - theseus on January 22 2009 14:38:17
  15. bud121156

    bud121156 Western North Carolina

    Apr 15, 2007
    North Carolina
    Wasn't one of those bad boys a double axle rig??

    North Carolina
    07 Fleetwood Westlake
  16. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

    Feb 6, 2007
    Centerville, OH
    All of the Coleman HWs are dual axle. That doesn't reduce the weight of the trailer, though, or make it lighter to tow.

    All of the Flagstaff HWs have GVWR right at 3800 lbs according to the website.

    2004 Expedition & 2000 Palomino Mustang SL-SG-FT

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