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If you are one of the millions of households that have a half-ton pick-up or SUV parked in your driveway, then you are already halfway to having the freedom and joy that a lightweight RV offers. One of the fastest-growing types of RVs this year is the lightweight travel trailer, primarily because it can easily be towed by the vehicle we already own, or would certainly be willing to trade for once we learn more. As fuel prices rise, the lightweight travel trailer also increases in popularity because it represents a solution for the challenges many families face when planning their family camping trips.
Simply put, “lightweight” equates to fuel efficiency and towing ease, therefore maximizing your tow vehicle investment. Generally the lightweight category is capped off at 6,000 pounds (GVWR) of combined trailer weight and cargo carrying capacity. To me this equates to 6,000 reasons to hook the SUV up to the travel trailer and indulge in some quality family time.
Founded just 10 years ago, Keystone RV has grown to become one of the most recognizable brands that you will see being towed on America’s highways and hooked up at your favorite campground. The company provides a wide range of lightweight travel trailers, fifth wheels and even toy haulers. One of their most popular brands right now is the Passport Ultra-Lite, whose design was driven by consumer demand. It allows you to enjoy all of the conveniences of a well-appointed RV and provides features that maximize its fuel efficiency.
The Passport lineup includes five models that are eight feet wide and range from just over 22 feet to almost 31 feet in length. Their dry weights range from 4,015 pounds to 4,820 pounds and they offer cargo carrying capacities of 1,385 pounds to 1,430 pounds. Dry weight and carrying capacity combined, most of these models are within the 6,000-pound area that generally defines lightweight travel trailers.
Giving up pounds does not mean giving up enjoyment though, certainly not with the Passport. Its welded aluminum frame, laminated walls and polystyrene block foam insulation shave a lot of pounds off what’s found on other RVs yet provides structural integrity and insulation value. It also has an enclosed underbelly to protect the ABS holding tanks, wiring and piping. No scrimping underneath where most people fail to look!
Inside you will enjoy many of the upscale amenities that are typically reserved for the heavier, more expensive trailers. The cooks in the family will enjoy the double-door refrigerator, double-bowl kitchen sink, microwave oven and three-burner range with oven. You will also have plenty of hot water thanks to its six gallon gas/electric DSI water heater. The Passport’s creature comforts include an AM/FM radio with CD player, a high-capacity furnace with electronic ignition and a 13.5 BTU ducted air conditioner system. Its large galley window affords you the opportunity to watch the kids play outside from the comfort of your living room or you can lower the mini-blinds for a comfortable afternoon nap.
The Passport is affordable, lightweight and extremely attractive as well as built to accommodate family budgets and foster family enjoyment. Towing the Passport with your half-ton pickup or SUV is made even easier with its 14-inch radial tires, galvanized wheel wells, a leaf spring suspension with load equalization axle system and 10-inch electric brakes on all wheels. When you arrive at the campground you can level the unit with its four stabilizing jacks, raise the television antenna or hook up cable service, plug in the 30-amp electrical service, lower the patio awning, fire up the optional exterior slide out cook center and enjoy RVing your way.
The Surveyor lineup by Forest River offers both super-lightweight travel trailers and fifth wheels that were developed specifically for mini-vans, SUVs and light-duty pick-up trucks. Its unique construction opens up storage space above the floor while lowering its center of gravity for towing ease and stability. To add strength and integrity to its sidewalls the Surveyor is constructed with 1.5-inch tubular aluminum framing in all openings. Some models have a rear slide out that opens, closes and locks with the simple push of a button.
Additionally, Fleetwood’s Pegasus lineup offers both a lightweight trailer, with lengths ranging from 20 to 22 feet, as well as a few hybrid models. The hybrid lineup includes five models that are capable of sleeping from six to ten people with lengths ranging from 20 to 27 feet. Fleetwood has maintained weights so low on these models that when cruising down the highway you will probably find yourself checking the rearview mirror to see if the trailer is still there. Although the Pegasus is engineered to be light, it is built very tough. The ceilings and sidewalls are framed in aluminum for lightweight strength and it uses a leaf spring suspension system that provides greater strength, durability and towing stability.
The Pegasus is furnished with many upscale features including a wardrobe, pantry, pass-through storage bay and exterior shower. Its high end interior treatments including hardwood cabinet doors, glossy stone-like countertops as well as full height ceilings will make you feel right at home. In the kitchen you will find a three-burner cooktop with one high-output burner in addition to a Dometic propane/electric refrigerator. Also, it is pre-wired for an air conditioner and most windows feature mini blinds.
If you are thinking about your half-ton pickup or SUV that is sitting out in the driveway and wondering if it can tow a trailer that offers your family camping in style, the answer is yes. There is a tremendous selection of RV models that offer you an effortless drive as you journey to your destination and all the features of home once you arrive.