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RP-171 Sleeps A Family of 4?

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Edward_Larkin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Edward_Larkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: RP-171 Sleeps A Family of 4?
    Posted: 23 Jul 2020 at 11:55pm
Hi,

My wife and I are dangerously close to purchasing a new 2021 RP-171. This will be our very first travel trailer. But we have one remaining concern. We're a family of 4 with two young kids (4yr. old and 7yr. old.) We're thinking we will have them sleep on the dinette together. But we're worried (of course) about how sustainable this will be, long term. We'd like to hear about other podders experiences with camping a family of 4 in an RP-171.

And in case anyone is wondering why we're limiting ourselves to an RP-171, let me explain. We have a very modest tower. A minivan with a 3500 lbs. towing capacity (350 lbs. tongue weight.) Given that limitation, I think the RP-171 or RP-172 is really our only safe options. And sadly the RP-172, with it's pair of bunks, has been discontinued and is dealer stock only (DSO.) Given the national market for R-PODs, we haven't found an RP-172 for sale anywhere, new or used, and don't think we will (we've been watching for months.) So we're down to trying to make the RP-171 work.

Additionally, anyone have any ideas for mods to an RP-171 to help this sleeping situation? Maybe a homemade bunk over the dinette? Give me your ideas. I'm dying to know.
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EchoGale View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote EchoGale Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 8:49am
Hi Edward, I have a 2016 172 for the same reasons you outline (my TV has the same capacities as yours). I'm sad to hear they aren't making it anymore because it's perfect for me. I'd worry about the weight of an added bunk but I wonder if you could remove the dinette altogether an add a lightweight bunk-bed frame. On the 172 there's nothing under than bottom bunk that would prevent this and the floor plan of the 171 looks like the dimensions are the same as my bunks.

FWIW Escape makes a model with a goucho bunk, which is basically a bunk that can be folded down into a couch.
Julie
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lostagain View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lostagain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 9:17am
Edward, we had a modified 172 in which we removed the bunks and raised and widened the lower bed, so it was effectively the same as a 171.  Our experience with taking grand children camping was that it is insanely crowded.  You may be able to accommodate sleeping for a while, until the kids get a little bigger, but that won't last long.  When you try to move around in the trailer with 4 people you will realize how crowded it really is.  And if it rains, and you're stuck inside...., well you get the point.

Your minivan is also really not adequate to tow a 171 with 4 passengers and all the stuff you'll need to bring along.  The trailer will weigh pretty close to 3300# by the time you add a battery, gas cylinder, and water, not to mention your clothes, food, and other supplies.  When you calculate your weight capacity with the mini-van, you need to look at the combined gross weight capacity of the vehicle, not just the towing capacity.  If you realistically calculate that weight, you'll probably find that you are at or over the limit.  Honestly, towing with a likely front wheel drive mini-van at or above its combined gross weight capacity is dangerous, especially in parts of the country where you will encounter high winds.


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offgrid View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 7:53pm
+_1 to lostagain, That 3500 lb tow rating is with nothing in the minivan except the driver. 

If you want your family to be safe and comfortable, and to future proof your purchase, get a 5000 lb rated tow vehicle and a bit larger trailer, at least  You'll save stress in the short run and cost in the long run...
2015 Rpod 179
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michaelbarth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote michaelbarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 8:07pm
We are a family of five and just purchased a 2020 r-pod 172! We tow it with a 2016 Kia Sedona minivan with a 3500 lb towing capacity just like yours. so it looks like we are in a very similar boat. We actually named it the crowded camper and we have been camping four times already and loved every minute. The minivan tows it great with the husky weight distribution hitch and when all five of us come we pitch a tent. Do not worry about what others are saying about getting a new vehicle or needing to get a bigger camper. We have found that simpler and smaller is better for us and we hope it is for you too!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Edward_Larkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 8:57pm
Thank you all for the replies. This has been valuable for sure. And thank you Michael for the extremely relevant feedback. It really gives me the confidence I need right now.

I think, if we could have anything we wanted, we'd get an RP-172. It seems like it fit's our needs well, but they just don't seem to be available in any form, despite a nationwide search for new or used models.

But the idea of modifying the dinette to build out the seating/sleeping we want (i.e. bunks) is a good idea and something I could probably do. On the RP-171, the power converter and fuse/breaker panel are in the drivers side dinette seat, so that would require some relocating, but probably not impossible. This is probably a nice option to keep in my back pocket if, over time, we need to come up with another solution.

The suggestion of the Escape with the Gaucho bunk is excellent. In fact, I spent weeks reviewing Scamps, Casitas and Escapes with this type of bunk. Sadly, the Escapes are a few hundred pounds more (either in dry weight or tongue weight or a combo of the two) which puts it a little out of my comfort zone for the Kia. I do genuinely think the 2500 lbs of the RP-171 and RP-172 is the absolute max for our Kia.

But I will say, I got very close to trying to purchase a Scamp or 16' Casita, despite it costing about $10k more, and having about 2/3 the features and space of the RP-171, just because I could get those Gaucho bunks. Ultimately, I just can't stomach the cost of those trailers when they're new. And with COVID-19 being what it is, their lead time is well over 7 months. And you can't find them in the used market either (for a few reasons, in addition to COVID-19.)

On the subject of the Kia and its ability to pull this trailer, I'll admit, I have my concerns, for sure, and respect the opinions and information given here. I believe the RP-171/172 are at the limit of what we can do, for the reasons described by the previous posters. To that end, I intend to travel light (admittedly easier said than done with a family of 4.) I intend to weigh in at a public scale fully loaded to be sure we're safe, and I am installing a Recurve R3 weight distribution hitch (400 lbs. tongue weight / 4000 lbs. trailer weight) with friction anti-sway. And of course, I'll be cautious.

We tried to convince ourselves the Kia could do something larger, like an RP-176, or an RP-191. It would make so many problems easier. But we know we're deluding ourselves.

And this will be our first travel trailer. We can't justify replacing a vehicle in our family, or adding a dedicated tow vehicle, and purchasing a new or used travel trailer, just to try out the travel trailer way of life (we're long time tent campers who moved to rented cabins when we had our children.) Thats a pretty high barrier to entry for this lifestyle, and I'm hoping a modest RP-171/172 will help us get our feet wet.

If we find out we love it and cant get enough of it, we'll have the experience to justify the replacement of our minivan for a more purpose built towing vehicle. Hopefully, that'll be about the time the kids refuse to sleep on the dinette bed together.Smile
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offgrid View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2020 at 6:29am
Originally posted by Edward_Larkin

 
On the subject of the Kia and its ability to pull this trailer, I'll admit, I have my concerns, for sure, and respect the opinions and information given here. I believe the RP-171/172 are at the limit of what we can do, for the reasons described by the previous posters. To that end, I intend to travel light (admittedly easier said than done with a family of 4.) I intend to weigh in at a public scale fully loaded to be sure we're safe, and I am installing a Recurve R3 weight distribution hitch (400 lbs. tongue weight / 4000 lbs. trailer weight) with friction anti-sway. And of course, I'll be cautious.



You are on the right track to get actual data on whether your TV is up to the task rather than basing your decision on opinion. There is a strong bias to want your existing vehicle to be OK, don't fall for that, let the numbers speak for themselves. Its always easy to find someone on the internet who will say what you want to do is fine....

Try this:

Load up the trailer and TV with everything you will have while on the road: people, fuel, propane, water, food, gear, tools, etc. Connect your wdh but do not tension it, it will throw off your weights. Roll through the scales getting weights on all three axles and the totals. You can use subtraction if needed to get each axle. 

Drop off the trailer and roll back through the scales getting the two tow vehicle axles. Leave the wdh on and put the bars in the back of the TV. Your tongue weight is going to be the total of the two TV axles with the trailer minus the TV without the trailer.  

Put all your weights in this nice calculator. Get all the max weights from your door sticker and trailer sticker and put those in too. The calculator needs a couple length measurements which you can get with a tape measure. 


You'll see anywhere where you are overloaded. The calculator can also tell you how much tension you need to put on the wdh to bring the front axle load back up to what it was without the trailer, and where your axle loads will be. But, a wdh does not give you added capacities, just improves weight distribution for better ride and handling.

If you are over anywhere then move or remove load until you're in spec or take the plunge and get a more capable TV. Personally I want some headroom on all my numbers, but that is up to you, where you will be travelling, and your risk tolerance. But seriously, if you are over the TV or FR's specs, don't do it, the mfgs don't set those limits conservatively, they are competing with each other. 

The reason I didn't suggest this approach to begin with is that I think there is a high likelihood that you will be overloaded and since you are buying a trailer to fit your TV rather than your family, you might regret that decision if you find out you have to upgrade TV's anyway. 


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2012 Toyota Highlander
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lostagain View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lostagain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2020 at 8:52am
Edward and Michael, I would add to OG's suggestion at the scales that you also check the weight on each axle with the WHD tension applied.  The reason is to see what kind of weight you have on your front drive wheels.  Your steering and traction depend on enough weight on those wheels.  On a flat dry hard surface road, you may not notice anything, but if you are in low traction conditions, i.e. wet or slippery, you may find you have directional control or traction issues.  

As for the crowded conditions inside the r-Pod, each family has it's own tolerance level, so that is a personal choice.  Using an overflow tent or an r-Dome adds tremendously to your space and is a good alternative, but all that extra gear adds weight.

The bottom line is one of safety for your families and for others on the road.  Towing in overweight conditions is dangerous to those in your vehicle and to others sharing the road.  You may be very lucky and nothing awful will happen, but you need to be aware of the risks as well and wiling to accept the consequences.  As podwerkz says:  "size matters."
Never leave footprints behind.
Fred & Maria Kearney
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Our Pod 172
2019 Ford F-150 2.7 EcoBoost
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Post Options Post Options   Quote michaelbarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2020 at 4:25pm
Ack - just hook that thing up and go camping! We're at probably 750 miles behind the Kia Sedona and it's smooth sailing, even in rain. The campground is filled with $45K to $65K dollars and up blah blah blah trucks. Just use your minivan and have fun! We are! See you in the White Mountains!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2020 at 5:03pm
Originally posted by michaelbarth

Ack - just hook that thing up and go camping! We're at probably 750 miles behind the Kia Sedona and it's smooth sailing, even in rain. The campground is filled with $45K to $65K dollars and up blah blah blah trucks. Just use your minivan and have fun! We are! See you in the White Mountains!

I disagree. You can do whatever you want personally as long as you are willing to be responsible for the consequences, no argument from me.  

But when you recommend things to others you need to take into account the effect you can have on their lives and loved ones.  If you know for a fact that Edward_Larkin and his family will be safe if he follows your advice then please share the information that leads you to that conclusion. And driving a rig with unknown loading for 750 miles isn't sufficient, there have to be generally accepted standards, and guess what, there are.

I am into my rig for 25K and have the capacity to handle the trailer and load I carry. I know that I do because I have weighed it and used a good calculator to check that I'm safely within my limits. I'm sure it can be done for less than I spent as well. So its not so much a matter of money, its a matter of knowing what you have and what your specs are.  If you don't want to go through that not so difficult process then you can get a TV with plenty of headroom and not worry about it. Either is a reasonable approach, but just hooking up a marginal rig, not so much. 
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