Toy hauler as bunk house?

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
We had two kids and the perfect trailer (Salem Cruise Lite 195BH). A queen bed, a dinette, two bunks, a bathroom, and a small kitchen with fridge/freezer. And then we decided to have ONE more kid...and got twins. (We love them and have no regrets...)

So we upgraded to a Toyota Sequoia as our tow vehicle. I really love having a dedicated dinette instead of having to convert it to a bed. We camp in cooler weather and its nice if a storm blows in for the kids to eat and craft and play games at the table. But all the travel trailers I've looked at with quad bunks are HUGE. We like our little 21 foot overall trailer because its easy to tow and can fit in tiny campsites.

So then I started looking at Toy Haulers and just adding cheap, light weight Ikea bunk beds. (My kids sleep best when they have a dedicated bed that can have a curtain blocking their view). Usually I look at the GVWR of a trailer but in this case, some are designed to have a lot of cargo and I wouldn't be filling it that full. We are pretty mindful of what we pack, including water and furniture, and would take it to the Pilot station to weigh it. I also know that even if the unloaded weight of the trailer is only 5,000 the hitch weight can be something like 1,100 and that's too high for the Sequoia.

So with all that being said, I've been looking at some that actually have a hitch weight of about 500-700 lbs and aren't much longer than our current trailer. I like that the drop down loft bed could fit a king sized mattress, something that my husband and I really want. Then we could fit the lower bunk beds underneath the loft. And still have a little room for a dinette and the two pack n plays (until the babies are ready for the bunks...)

We also have a 60 pound Goldendoodle and it would be nice to have more room for him.

Am I missing any considerations with using a toy hauler as a bunk house? I know a popup has more sleeping space and small towing size but I have issues with a tent trailer. Hence staying on the dark side. Rage'N.png
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,188
I have totally considered doing this! Let's face it: RV "furniture" sucks. I wanna furnish my own trailer! But I don't want to have to do the bathroom or appliances.

They do get pretty tall though, and very few are as small as I'd need, but I think it's a perfectly valid approach. Someone will tell us why it's not a good idea, but until then, I'm on board.
 

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
I have totally considered doing this! Let's face it: RV "furniture" sucks. I wanna furnish my own trailer! But I don't want to have to do the bathroom or appliances.

They do get pretty tall though, and very few are as small as I'd need, but I think it's a perfectly valid approach. Someone will tell us why it's not a good idea, but until then, I'm on board.

Amen to all of that! I'm not picky about the furniture except that it's not very moveable. I want to customize it myself just so I can fit it to my needs.

And yes, I noticed they're a little taller if they have the bed above the garage. But no where near as tall as a 5th wheel. I think I found a rental one locally so I can take it out for a weekend and see how it tows and how we like the open floorplan. Maybe in the spring when there's not snow everywhere.
 

Lumbergodd

Active Member
May 20, 2016
128
I thought that this would totally make sense when we were looking. One of the things we wanted was sleeping space for our grand kids when they came along. My wife, however nixed this idea and we settled on the Jayco X213. This trailer probably won't fit your needs but was a good compromise for us.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,591
Nj
I like the idea, just have some things maybe to thing about. Does the bed have enough clearance under it for bunks? Maybe mattresses on the floor are a better option. Put them on the main bed for traveling and you can store bikes in the back.
Will the tongue weight be higher since its made to have stuff in the garage?
And you did mention to not break down the table to a bed every night, but you will have to break down the couches every night.
I did liok for double bunkhouses and cam up with nothing light. They used to sell a 3 bunk house one with a queen bed , but that would still be one bed short.
Good luck and i like the idea.
 

Beatrice

Member
Jan 18, 2021
68
Bedford county, PA
I actually considered the KZ Sportsmen LE 200THLE. At some point I plan on just starting from scratch with a plain enclosed trailer...that way I get what I want and not what some ding-dong thinks I need. The last time I went to a camper show I would sit inside them and redesign them in my head...
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,188
I tried to get the spouse onboard with a "Let's buy and gut and redo an old trailer" but it just didn't go over well. Maybe if we didn't already have 2 campers in the garage?
 

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
I like the idea, just have some things maybe to thing about. Does the bed have enough clearance under it for bunks? Maybe mattresses on the floor are a better option. Put them on the main bed for traveling and you can store bikes in the back.
Will the tongue weight be higher since its made to have stuff in the garage?
And you did mention to not break down the table to a bed every night, but you will have to break down the couches every night.
I did liok for double bunkhouses and cam up with nothing light. They used to sell a 3 bunk house one with a queen bed , but that would still be one bed short.
Good luck and i like the idea.

Thanks for helping me brainstorm! The ones we’ve looked at in person (not the exact model since we went to dealerships and will have to buy older and used) had about 5 feet under the loft bed. When we went to ikea last week I found a bunk bed that was lower where the bottom bunk was mostly on the floor. But I definitely would have to measure the specific trailer we’re looking at.

And yes, we’d have to work on balancing the tongue weight to get it to about 13%. I wonder where the water tanks are in general on toy haulers. Ours is in the back but it’s not hard to achieve a 13% tongue weight. (Yes, we take it to the scales to measure total weight once loaded and filled with water and tongue weight specifically). We’d also have to see if we can actually fill it completely with water because toy haulers often have a much larger water tank.
 

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
I
I thought that this would totally make sense when we were looking. One of the things we wanted was sleeping space for our grand kids when they came along. My wife, however nixed this idea and we settled on the Jayco X213. This trailer probably won't fit your needs but was a good compromise for us.

I do love the idea of that trailer and any with the slide out master bed. I think once I even saw one with 4 bunks and then a slide out master but it was only once several months ago.
 

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
How old are the oldest kids? Maybe a tent and some blow up mattress for them.

They’re 6 and 7. I need my chickens close. Haha! Plus we camp in the fall and spring so we need a warm nighttime environment for them. We’ve comfortably boondocked for 7 nights with below freezing nighttime temps (but 50-60 during the day). My kids also don’t sleep well unless it’s a familiar bed so the trailer, since it’s not being taken apart like a tent would, has become their familiar bed. We have some autism traits in our family so familiarity is important.
 

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
I tried to get the spouse onboard with a "Let's buy and gut and redo an old trailer" but it just didn't go over well. Maybe if we didn't already have 2 campers in the garage?

Haha! We are not DIY’ers. We can modify a little bit not gut or start from scratch. As you said before, I want the kitchen and bathroom already running well. The rest I can throw some mattresses and a folding table in. I don’t need fancy. Just way too old to sleep on the floor anymore and my kids need their familiar bed.
 

Rusty2192

Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2014
1,198
Kentucky
The RV Atlas is a blog/podcast I’ve been following for a few years. They went with a bigger toy hauler and ended up getting rid of it after just a couple years and went back smaller. They said the extra width really made a much bigger difference when towing than they expected. Here’s the write-up and podcast episode which would be worth a listen.

https://thervatlas.com/podcast/jayco-octane-272/
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
12,275
Keystone outback has a toy hauler that would probably work for you.. front garage, side loading, has a double bed with single bunk above.. Rear slide out king bed...
 

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
The RV Atlas is a blog/podcast I’ve been following for a few years. They went with a bigger toy hauler and ended up getting rid of it after just a couple years and went back smaller. They said the extra width really made a much bigger difference when towing than they expected. Here’s the write-up and podcast episode which would be worth a listen.

https://thervatlas.com/podcast/jayco-octane-272/

Wow, I’ll have to look into the widths! I didn’t think they would be different. I saw one for rent and wanted to take it out for a weekend so I guess that would also help me get a feel for towing it.
 

MaeKay

Super Active Member
Oct 18, 2017
764
Utah
I'd put the kids in the upper bed though. At a certain age...keep your kids close but the bathroom closer.

That’s hilarious! I wouldn’t mind a bunkhouse in an enclosed garage and me closer to the bathroom.
And yes, my husband and I don’t love climbing a ladder to get to our bed. However, I’m not sure how well my kids will do sleeping up there without a defined bed. Wonder if we could just make stalls out of curtains for each of them. It would sure end the fights over who gets to sleep in the top bunk this trip.
 

shelmily

Super Active Member
Jun 7, 2012
3,610
Northeast Pennsylvania
I had looked into doing this exact same thing. It is a great idea. Here are a few things I ran into though. First off as you have already found out, toy haulers have a heavy tongue weight empty, as they are meant to balance when loaded with toys. Second, the taller height of some of them is going to create more frontal area and cause more drag while towing. Be sure your vehicle can handle it. Lastly, and what really spoiled the deal for us. Some models don't have heat and or air conditioning in the garage area. They do this to cut down on weight and cost. It's only a garage, so why does it need them. We had a hard time finding one with the layout/specs that we wanted, and had heat and air back there. We were looking at much larger ones than you are considering, so maybe that is not an issue in your case. I hope you can find one that works for you. I really do think it makes for a great setup if done right. Good luck.
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,188
The bed-sharing trick is that they aren't sharing a bed. They are sleeping in the same area! In sleeping bags. Since you're based in Utah instead of the steamy south, you can probably get away with sleeping bags. No way could I tuck my teenagers into bed together. But they can certainly have their sleeping bags in the same area.

I like that THs have little vents for fumes. My dog set off our propanne/CO detector last trip. Twice.

The heat/AC thing is interesting. I'd expect that the midsize ones you're looking at would be heated entirely since the garage also has the sleeping quarters but it's those little details that are easy to miss. (I know those are actually pretty small for toyhaulers, but I was looking at some that were 7' wide. :p)
 




Top