There are so many things to consider when purchasing a camper trailer, especially for the first time. There are also an overwhelming amount of brands, years, types, sizes, and floor plans to consider. So, how do you decide which travel trailer is right for you? I am sharing the 5 things that I found most useful to know when I was buying a camper trailer. These items are a great starting place to narrow your search.
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What Is the Dry Weight of the Camper Trailer?
The dry weight is the unloaded weight of the vehicle, without anything else loaded in or on it. It is the vehicle with the barebones factory installed items, such as a shower, fridge, table. However, no extras are accounted for, meaning, usually anything installed after the camper trailer leaves the manufacturer. It is the weight before you put any water in the tanks.
Why is this important? Of the 5 things to know when buying a camper trailer, this may be the most important because it may immediately narrow your selection process. It can be extremely easy to max out your weight capacity on your towing vehicle, which is not only illegal, but dangerous. Therefore, the dry weight is important when first selecting a camper trailer because you want to figure out how heavy a trailer you can tow, and how many pounds of your stuff you will be able to cram into it.
For example, if your towing capacity is 7000 pounds, and your dry weight camper trailer is 6000 ponds, you can essentially load about 1000 additional pounds of stuff. Remember, if you will be driving with filled water tanks, you need to subtract the water weight. It may sound like the ultimate dream of limitless packing, but weight adds up fast.
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What Is the Towing Limit of Your Vehicle?
Knowing the towing capacity of your vehicle will help you to narrow down the camper trailer that is right for you. This information can usually be found in your user’s manual, or by contacting the vehicle dealership. Based on the maximum weight and length that your vehicle can safely tow, you will then be able to focus on the camper trailer selection available in your length and weight category.
I found that while narrowing down my camper trailer search online, knowing the maximum length and weight was primary and necessary. It allowed me to use filters on the various dealer websites so that I was only searching for camper trailers of my maximum capacity or less. Since there are so many to go through, this helped me focus on looking only at the real possibilities.
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How Many People Does the Camper Trailer Need to Accommodate?
What are your sleeping requirements? Sleeping capacity serves as another easy filter when searching for a camper trailer, that you can quickly apply, in order to help you rule out the ones that you definitely do not want.
“BH” in the camper description usually stands for “bunk head.” This refers to a bunkbed set up. When you look at the descriptions online and then view each trailer’s floor plan, you will further be able to see the sleeping capacity and layout. Some trailers have a queen or king bed, some bunkbeds, murphy beds, or tables that convert to beds. It depends what you want, but this factor can really help you narrow down your search.
For example, I knew that I wanted a queen bed, and for sure did not want bunkbeds. I was able to quickly eliminate all of the “BH” options from my search.
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What Is the Reputation of the Brand?
When looking at brand reputation there are several factors to consider. Definitely read reviews to see if the particular brand you are considering has any known and repeated issues. Also, look to see what the customer service reviews are, if you do indeed have a problem. Are they responsive?
I actually called the manufacturer of the camper trailer that I was considering buying, to ask a few parts questions. This call was also a perfect opportunity to evaluate what it would be like dealing with them if I had questions or warranty issues after purchase. I wanted to know if they answered phones, if they were helpful, and knowledgable.
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Which Features Are Must-Haves for You?
What are the most important features of a travel trailer for you? I made a list of the items that I knew that if they were not included, I’d feel unsatisfied with my purchase. Obviously this list will differ for each person, and there is no right or wrong. It is mostly based on personal choice and expectations.
Things that may potentially make this list for you, could be: air conditioning, a closet or pantry, a linen closet, sufficient counter space, or an outdoor kitchen. Others may be more concerned about the number of television hook ups. To each, their own. Sometimes when buying a product, you have to be willing to compromise on something, in order to find the best overall fit. However, if there is a feature you feel very strongly about, you may want to continue your search, as it may make you unhappy to settle.
See Also Jenny In Wanderland article, Buying a Camper Trailer