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Christopher Quast

How big of a camper can I put on a z-71 with a shortbox and????????

25 posts in this topic

Is this the way to go or not necissarily if I want to be able to tow a boat also and does anyone know what the law is for having a camper (pull-behind) and a boat combo. What is the difference in mileage between a pickup camper and a pull behind type say a 20 footer or so and any other input on this subject would be great.

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Lets see if I can answer your questions. I am assuming you have a 1500 z71 and not the new style where you can get the z71 package on a 2500 and 3500 series truck. You need to get the curb weight of your truck. Subtract that from your GVWR, should be on a sticker of your door jamb, this will give you your payload capacity. The payload capacity considers persons, gear and hitch weight of the trailer or truck camper. You should not exceed the GVWR of your pickup when all loaded, not a good idea. If you have a 1/2 ton Chev, it may not be up to the task. I am guessing payload capacity of your truck 1500 lbs.

You must have a fifth wheel/gooseneck to pull doubles in MN. The middle trailer cannot exceed 28' from front of pin box to bumper of trailer. The overall rig truck/fifth wheel trailer/trailer behind that can not exceed 70' in MN.

I pull a 22' fifth wheel with a GVWR on the trailer of 5200lbs. Dropping that on to the truck adds about 900-1000 lbs to the payload of the truck. On my F150 it leaves me 700-800 lbs I can still add to the truck for payload capacity. I then pull a 17'6" bass boat behind that. Which weighs around 2,000 lbs. full of gas. My GCWR of the truck is 14,300 lbs. What that means is the truck,fifth wheel and boat can not exceed that weight. My truck weighs 5600lbs, camper around 5,000 and boat 2,000. Puts me at around 13,000 lbs plus people in truck. So I am getting close. Find a fifth wheel with a GVWR of around 5-6k for a 1/2 ton and you should be OK. Hard to find nowadays. All new fifth wheels, even the ones saying 1/2 ton towable, are way too heavy. You are over weight as soon as you drop the trailer on to it.

Fifth wheel is the way to go in my opinion, vs truck camper, if you want to bring your boat and still have a decent amount of space for living area vs. truck camper. Truck got 9.2 MPG's pulling combo last weekend. Not bad, I was doing 65 MPH most of the time. Pulls like a dream, do not even know the boat is behind the fifth wheel.

I can not answer question on the MPG difference between a pickup camper and fifth wheel. I am assuming they are very similar due to the wind resistance you have to overcome. One more thing is that most truck campers(box mounted) are too heavy for a 1/2 ton. Most I have seen,even ultra lights, are 1500lbs. At the payload capacity of the truck right there.

Hope this helps.

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You can't tow a boat trailer behind a travel trailer, but you can pull a boat behind 5th wheel. There are limits as to the total length of the boat, 5th wheel and the boat, but I am not sure what it is off hand, somewhere around 70' total.

Either way you go the gas mileage is gonna suck bad, probably around 10 or less.

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Quote:
You must have a fifth wheel/gooseneck to pull doubles in MN. The middle trailer cannot exceed 28' from front of pin box to bumper of trailer. The overall rig truck/fifth wheel trailer/trailer behind that can not exceed 70' in MN.

I was told by the RV dealer that they rescinded that rule for 2008, but you still need to stay under 70'

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The way to go IMO is a motorhome. I know, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Save the 4L65E tranny in your Z71 for driving around and towing a small boat.

I have a crew cab 2500HD diesel and still went with a motorhome. Just more luxurious for traveling (both driving and camping).

The only problem is if you are one who needs to run around when you go camping. Then you may need a separate vehicle to drive around.

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I have a Polomino cabover popup,Its total weight with a full tank of water,(20 Gal.)20 lb propane tank and all our gear, is 1300 lbs.My Ford heavy 1/2 ton handles it excellent.

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I am in the same predicament. I thought about getting a fifth wheel, I am just not up to the task of driving aroud 70' of hardware. The way I look at it is, when I go camping, I do a ton of recreational type stuff. I don't go camping to sit in the trailer/camper. I need it to sleep in and that is about it. The pickup camper does this nicely. Also, if you get one with those nice electric jacks, (just to make it easy) you lift it off of the the truck and you have your vehicle back.

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In the same boat sparky. With the motorhome I can tow atv's, snowmobiles, a boat, a small car etc.... and keep the mileage down on my truck and RV. The comfort of the motorhome on long trips is nice. I hate being cramped up in a truck, especially if you have more than two people.

Different for everyone, just giving another angle on the whole idea.

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Roofer is dead on. It all depends on your preferences and how you travel. We had a motorhome and for traveling it was nice, but once you setup if you had to run and get something or wanted to go somewhere you had to break camp and then reset up. If you go and stay put, or if you are touring, no big deal. But if you setup for a week or so and occasionally have to run somewhere that is a bit inconvenient.

I have yet to tow the boat behind the 5th wheel and I am sure that will take some getting used to wink But time will tell how difficult it will be. Even towing behind a fair sized motor home is going to put you around 60 feet, so how much more difficult with the 5th is left to be seen.

Truck camper, the only drawback would be the lack of sq footage for longer trips. And the bigger ones with slides required Dually trucks.

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In my opinion (which is usually considered worthless)it would make a big difference whether you are talking about just yourself or a family. When you are talking about a large family, a pick-up camper that you could load safely onto your half ton truck just wouldn't be very comfortable in my book.

If it were just me, then thats more than enough to satisfy me.

I have went from tents to pop-ups to travel trailers to a class c motorhome. All were fine and had thier place but now I am using a 5th wheel and I am sure that I will never have anything else.

The 5th wheel is the best of all possible worlds. My family gets a nice spacious camper with all the ammenities like, bathroom, kitchen, a nice big bed and all that. I get something that is a lot easier to hook up and tow and I can also bring my boat along if I choose to. All the other campers I have had seemed to have limitations but the 5th wheel really doesn't. My only limitation right now is the size of my truck but when it comes time to buy a new truck I will no longer buy a 1/2 ton.

This is all just my opinion and not meant to start anything.

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There is no easy answer for this, as they all have their pluses and minuses. Make a list of the issues of each (plus/minus) and rate them by importance. Then make a choice and enjoy it. Have you considered buying a cabin?

We still use tents (nice ones). Not the most comfortable way to go, but hard to beat the versatility. You can camp just about anyplace, don't need a big tow vehicle, and you can always bring the boat. You also always have a vehicle to run around in once your there.

Also, storage of the tent is a lot easier then trying to store a big rig some place. Just throw it in the closet.

You know the draw backs of a tent, so they are not for everybody.

Good luck, and what ever you decide on, enjoy it! You could even post some pics for us to see.

- Wish

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Big D the 5th cant pull into remote sites like my cabover,only 2 of us but we also carry a tent for times others show and decide to spend the night,We use lots of muddy back roads on the minn.River and it gets harrie at times a dent or scrape on the truck is no problem cause thats what its for,Back areas.

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Does your payload change if one would put airbags in? I have been thinking of a camper as well... would I be able to handle a bigger one, with the use of airbags? I am pushing the envelope on this one I think, I know what I want to hear but I am sure it has to do with the drive train as well. I also have a 1/2 ton. Short box.

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Air bags/helper leaf/heavier springs will allow you to have a more stable ride, but your tires, brakes, rear end, and engine may not handle the extra load. You really need to take it all into consideration. Even if you can get it moving, you have to be able to stop it. Keep it safe!!!!

We bought a 5th wheel this year and even though the weight was under the tow rating of my 1/2 ton, I picked up a 3/4 ton to give me some breathing room. The 3/4 and 1 ton trucks are built to better and more safely handle the larger load.

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To each their own. With that said...........

I go camping with some groups and they all have 5th wheels. I can set up within 10 minutes. Hydraulic levelers down, awning out...done.

When they set up it's.....get it level with boards, put up stabilizing jacks of all sorts, unhitch truck, unload truck (coolers, generator, etc.), hook up generator, start to camp.

On the other hand, they do have a truck to drive around in, but they also have a truck (2500 or bigger), that they don't need in their regular life.

Now this is at primitive campsites. Going to a regular KOA, the setup times are similar, being you don't need a generator and the spots are more level. It really depends on what you do and where you go.

I went camping this weekend, and the motorhome cost me about 50 cents a mile, although the others with a 5th wheel probably paid the same.

Not all RV's have the same ammenities either. Check what you want or need and buy accordingly. I really like having the backup camera to watch my trailer when driving. Just another peace of mind thing, but it's nice! It's also nice with the dogs. No cramping them in the truck or in cages. They just lay on the floor next to me. For us, the MH works great.

Most people do start in tents, then a tent trailer, then a travel trailer, then a 5th wheel or motorhome. I went right o a motorhome and feel I am time and money ahead (let alone the comfort of camping).

We have a cabin in the woods if we want to rough it. smile

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I dunno, 1st time out we had our 5th wheel setup and ready to go in about 10 minutes or less. It was a fairly level site tho and even if I would have had to back 1 side up on boards it wouldn't have taken that darn long wink

Some of that depends on the person setting up too. I have seen people take 1/2 hour or more to setup a motorhome too. Some people just putz too much grin

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Yeah, it all depends on what you do when you set up. Some people bring and put out everything under the sun. I just put out what I absolutely have to(chairs and beer cooler) so it doesnt take me very long to set up. It does take a few minutes longer than my old motor home that I used to use but I will put up with the few extra minutes to hook up and un-hook, to have a vehicle ready to go if I want it.

Last year my son got sick when we were camping at Bray park. Luckily we were tent camping at the time so I had my truck available to go to the store and get the medicine he needed. If not I would have had to tear down the set-up on the motor home just to go to town and get the meds.

The auto-levelers would certainly be nice, but costly. They probably cost more than my whole trailer. I think you can get those on trailers now unless I am mistaken.

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Airbags will help the ride and take care of any sag on the rear wheels but it won't change your payload. As I understand it, the factory specs assigned to your truck for towing, GVWR, payload, etc. are written in stone from the factory. So, legally you shouldn't tow or haul more than what is stated on the sticker in the door jam.

Trackerbrent is right-on with his numbers. I'd say he's pretty close if not generous with your truck having a 1500 Lb payload. You can find 5th wheels with a pin weight between 1000-1500 Lbs. Hooking a boat to the back of the 5th wheel will also take some weight off the camper pin but I wouldn't count on factoring this into the equation when shopping for a 1/2 ton towable 5th wheel.

I'm towing a small 5th wheel and boat with a heavy half. I'm on the boarder if not over weight. I think the key is to use common sense, take your time, and respect the limits of any given vehicle.

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I'm going to agree with some on this...

A 1/2 ton truck is not designed to handle the loads you are thinking of hauling. Heck, even a 5th wheel trailer alone with a 1/2 ton is stretching it. I've seen some people do it and it sure looks like a ton of stress on the truck.

There is a reason 3/4 ton or larger trucks can handle these loads... i.e. the drivetrain is so much stronger, larger brakes, engine, transmission....it all makes a big difference.

You may be able to haul a 5th wheel with a tail wind, but you add a headwind there's going to be a lot of stress on the vehicle. Stopping will likely be an issue. I wouldn't risk yourself and others on the roadway with a triple combo on a 1/2 ton...

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Gutter, your payload is limited by the weakest link in the chain, which could be

1) tires

2) rims

3) springs

4) axel

5) frame

6) bed

In addition you need to figure cooling, braking, and transmission mods into the equation, especially with a 1/2 ton.

When trying to figure out what your truck can carry you need to know

1) GVWR

2) Gross Axel weight rating (font and rear)

3) Gross combined weight rating (total weight of everything you're towing)

4) hitch weight or pin weight rating

Those numbers come with your truck documentation. After that, fill your tank, load up the passenger compartment with what you normally carry and then go find a truck scale. Weigh the following

1) truck

2) front axel

3) rear axel

If you want to tow a boat behind your truck while pulling a 5th wheel or carrying a camper then bring your boat along too (full of the stuff you carry in the boat when you tow it) and measure the following

1) truck and boat combined weight

2) front axel weight of truck/boat combo

3) rear (drive) axel weight of the truck/boat combo

4) boat axel weight

5) Weight of boat (unhook vehical)

6) weight of boat on tounge (unhook vehical weigh the front roller wheel of boat).

Now you can make an informed decision on what your truck can or can't carry, legally or otherwise. I'm not overly concerned with going over the GVWR of my truck or the gross axel weight rating of my rear but I won't overload the front axel and never exceed the gross combined vehical weight rating of the rig (IIRC that will get you an expensive ticket). On my truck (2500HD diesel, CC/SB) the limiting factor in the rear axel rating is the load capacity of the tires. I've found in general the following limits on my truck

1) stock 245/75R16's can carry 3000 lbs which gives with a gross rear axel weight rating of 6000 lbs.

2) rims - stock aluminum good to 4000 lbs.

3) spring pack - good to atleast 6000 lbs, adding another spring, airbags, or something else can help a lot here.

4) axel - atleast 9000lbs.

5) frame, body - good enough, something else will fail first.

So if I want to put on a camper or tow heavy I need to do some/all of the following

1) replace the tires. Either go with a commercial tire with a higher load rating or change to a size that naturally can carry more weight. For example going from 245/75r16 to 265/75r16 will change my load capacity from 3000lb/tire to 3400lb/tire. However the stock rim will be 1/2 too narrow for the tire. This hasn't been a problem with those who tow but if I want to play safe I can get different rims. Just need to know the manufactures weight rating of the rims (some are quite low). Or, I can get some wheels from Rickson and then can run 19.5's (commercial truck size) with very high weight ratings (5000lb/wheel or so). This is a very popular option with folks who have a camper on a SRW 3/4 or 1ton truck - it costs $3K though.

2)Work with the springs. I like the ride of my truck when empty so I would go with airbags to help with the load and to level the truck. I would also change over to Bilstein shocks and Sulastic shackles.

3) Sway bars. SRW trucks aren't the best in the wind (unlike DRW's). Adding a rear sway bar is a good option.

4) front axel. Since I have a diesel my front end is a bit heavy. I would consider timbrens if I was going to use a camper and possibly run a HD bumper or a winch up front. In any case I would probably install a Cognito leveling kit.

5) Brakes. The stock brakes on my truck are great. If I wanted to tow very heavy then I would upgrade to stainless steel brake lines and probably slotted rotors, the calipers are probably good enough. On a 1/2 ton a major brake upgrade would be needed to tow heavy.

I've looked at campers, 5th wheels, and travel trailers and with each option there are things that would probably need to be modified on my truck in order to properly tow them into the areas I would want to tow. Pulling a heavy weight is the easiest task for a 1/2 ton or SRW 3/4 ton truck to pull. Cargo capacity (what you need for a camper or to support the pin weight of a 5th wheel) is best handled with a 1 ton DRW (dually). In either case, before you can make an informed, safe decision you really need to know the capacities of your specific vehical. So go to the scales and get the weights and look at your documentation to get the capacities before you make any purchase decisions. Hint, eventhough I have a 3/4 ton, I would get a camper marketed to 1/2 ton trucks if I were to get one. The RV dealerships way over market their product. Play safe

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Dinkadunk, you must have spent some time studying up on that topic. Lots of info.

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I've been mulling over stuff for the last couple of years. My old Suburban was getting a bit long in the tooth so I picked up something to replace it and tow with. Since I telecommute, diesel prices don't effect me during the week. I wanted a truck that could tow my boat and also serve as a platform for fly fishing adventures out west. A dually was ruled out because they can't be used on many boat ramps (too wide) and a long box was ruled out because they're a PIA to take into many parking ramps. I plan on renting a travel trailer for a trip next year and then decide on what RV to go with. I figure on the tow vehical and RV being a 10-15 year purchase so I want to get it right the first time.

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We went through a similar thing. We bought a used motorhome and used it for a few years and although it beat the pants off tent camping, it just didn't seem to be what we wanted. We talked for a few years about what we really wanted and decided a 5th wheel would a good fit for us. I figured it would be easier to sell and replace a truck than the RV so we went with a used 3/4 ton truck and just made sure it would tow both the RV and boat. I did some digging around and looked at what you have posted there, but never really put it all down into something that coherent.

Every style of RV is going to have pluses and minuses. That is especially the case if you have a budget to stick to.

So far the only thing that has stuck out for us with the 5th wheel is backing it up and since we have not taken it out much, so that is more of a learning curve than anything. Little more setup with a separate generator and such, but not enough to be an issue.

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One thing missed was the transmission. That will be the weakest link on a half ton.

I have a sister and brother in law who bought a half ton Chevy to pull their travel trailer. They added D rated tires, air bags, etc. They pulled it once and found it was just not enough truck to pull a RV. They since sold the truck, went back to 30mpg commuter vehicles, and bought a used motorhome. Now they have gone camping 4 times just this year.

My father in law bought a brand new 5th wheel 4 years ago for $14,000. Yes it was a great price and a nice camper, but it is falling apart already. My 1995 motorhome is in better shape. I know some of the trailers are good cheap price, but you get what you pay for.

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