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Discussion Starter · #21 · (Edited)
Bumping this thread to add a few more thoughts about towing and RV's in general.

I went to the RV show in Hershey, PA this past Thursday. It is bllled as the largest RV show in the country, and while I have no idea if that's hyperbole or not, it is a huge show. I'm at a loss as to who buys some of the behemoths I saw there; many were essentially the equivalent of putting your entire house, from bedrooms, to bathrooms, with dens and kitchen in between, on wheels. Prices were similarly astounding and more than a few were more expensive than actual houses ($300k and up). Moving your house down the highway also must be a pretty costly proposition; some of those rigs can't get much more than a mile or two per gallon.

The reason I went to the show was to take a first-hand look at some larger campers. We presently have a small but very well-equipped [email protected] 320 teardrop. It literally has every feature that much larger campers have, and everything but the a/c and microwave can be powered by LFP batteries/solar or propane for off-grid camping (until the water runs out, the cassette toilet gets full or the sun doesn't shine). While we love the camper, we are a bit cramped now that our camping "family" has grown from one dog to two, and hence the consideration for something a bit larger.

While we want something larger, we don't want to upsize at the expense of range. My understanding is that the Airstreams are quite aerodynamic, and if cost were not a consideration, a 19 or 20 foot Bambi would be a great option. The Airstreams look great, are well-made and can be very nicely equipped. At well over $70k new, and not much less used however, the Bambi is not really an option.

The other alternative I saw at the show, but had not previously considered, was an A-Liner. These are pop-ups, so have a low profile, but have rigid, insulated sides. The model that interested me most was the Expedition, which has two pop-up dormers (photo below) making it seem very roomy. One of the Expedition series actually has a pull-out galley, similar to the Rivian camp kitchen, though in this case, the pull-out is a stove and refrigerator (the sink is inside the trailer). Cost is under $30k with most amenities, but adding solar and LFP storage will bump that up a few thousand but will still be in the affordable range.

That leads to the range question. The A-Liner weighs in at under 1,850 lbs/841 kg dry (GVWR 3,500 lbs/1,591 kg), and is 84" wide and 68" high (213 x 173 cm) when folded for towing. It is about 18' (5.5 m) long. I'm thinking that the low profile, low weight and modest length will have the least impact on range of any of the three trailers.

If my thinking is anywhere near accurate, I may be looking at achieving something over 2.0 mi/kWh which in turn, could mean that the 135 kWh Large pack (which apparently is really more like 129 kWh) would give me an effective range of at least 150 miles. That would mean I could live with the R1S/T LR and don't need to wait for the R1T Max.

Thoughts?
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If you're considering the A-liner maybe also look at the Forest River Rockwood pop-up, which is very similar.

I think every travel trailer is a compromise in some way. It's just a question of whether you can live with a given compromise. I thinks it's easy to get stuck looking for the "ideal" trailer for you. But I think just choosing one then learning to live with the compromises of that specific model is the more productive strategy. Especially with the current long lead times - it's clear you're already well-informed about the trade offs so I suggest just making the purchase and not second guessing yourself. And yes, when towing with a vehicle that has a range of only 300 miles (e.g. the Rivian or my 4Runner), you might find that learning to live with it means a different style of traveling than you're used to. Specifically, you might have to plan to stop for the night on average every 200 miles instead of every 800 miles. Since that's the way I normally travel, that's not a compromise for me, but it may be for others. And because of the way I travel, I have no angst over "settling" for the Large Pack - I am sure I can live with it when towing a small trailer because that's what I have done with my 300-mile range ICE vehicle.

My understanding is that the Airstreams are quite aerodynamic
IMO this is one of the biggest myths in the travel trailer industry. It's easy to believe, because after all the name implies streamlined and sleek. But in actuality Airstreams are still very large bricks being pulled through the air, albeit bricks with half of their corners and two thirds of their edges rounded off. Plus they have all sorts of non-flush attachments which disrupt the flow and generate drag - those would be easy 10%-20% gains if removed. Airstream took the Bowlus concept, which was actually designed to be aerodynamic (developed by aircraft engineers), and modified it to make a cheaper, roomier, easier-to-manufacture version, and they made themselves successful doing this.

Airstreams are among the best looking travel trailers, and retain their value very well, but to me there are just too many other things that argue against them - weight and industry-trailing solar capabilities as an example.

Drag is three dimensional - having a taper in the side view like the [email protected] is better than having no taper, but from the top the [email protected] is just a rectangle, with the drag of a rectangle in that dimension. Likewise Airstreams have some rounding, but in effect all that does is to make them comparable to a smaller brick being towed. Safari Condo is the only company I am aware of that has put a lot of effort into actually engineering a more aerodynamic trailer - every other company seems to just throw in a few curves to "look" streamlined then call it a day, but I don't believe most have ever done the sort of engineering that literally every car company does these days. Car companies have to do this because they have to comply with Federal fuel efficiency regulations, but there are no such standards for travel trailers so the selling points are other things like roominess and features, but never fuel efficiency. It would be nice if there were at least a required disclosure of drag rating of the trailer so that consumers could make informed choices on what is more efficient to tow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I forgot about Safari Condo; their campers seem to be both well-designed and well-made but they don't participate in any of the RV shows south of the border. The retractable roof Alto is quite nice, particularly with all the window surface, but is not especially small at 83-1/2" when closed. By way of comparison, the [email protected] 320 is 89" and the 400 is 100". Safari Condo does however have a camper that they pitch as specifically designed for less drag, the A2124. I'd love to see one in person, and probably should plan a trip to Quebec to do that. From their website:
Less drag, more fun
Designed to optimize the aerodynamics of a caravan, the A2124 is the end product of 11 virtual wind tunnel tests. The result is the most aerodynamic caravan ever designed by Safari Condo, with 47% less aerodynamic drag than all other models in the Alto series. Combined with the lightness of this range of trailers, the A2124 is the most economical to tow in the industry. Safari Condo is driven by a desire to offer products that reduce fossil fuel consumption, and the Alto A2124 was designed with a future in mind that will include more and more electric cars.

Would love to hear from someone who owns and tows one.
 

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I think you can easily get over 150 miles of range with a pop-up or tear-drop. I was getting about 140 with my empty 24 ft enclosed car trailer with a shallow v-nose (based on battery % used per miles towed, you can't use the trip computer for reliable consumption numbers). The trailer is about 4000 lbs empty. This was on relatively flat highways at 65 mph. The main contributor to the range was aero (as you are aware). With a 3500 lb car in the trailer my range only dropped to about 130 miles using the same calculation method.

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I used to own an A frame pop up. It was a Chalet off road version. It was super easy to tow with our v6 2006 RAV4 sport (265hp?). We used a load stabilizing/leveling hitch that worked great. The issue was that driving highway speeds we got about 12 miles to the gallon. With a 12 gallon tank we had a realistic 120 mile range before filling. We usually got about 300 miles to a tank not towing. I was surprised on the amount of loss we had. I think the primary reason was two fold. We had decently knoby wheels on the trailer and it was lifted a bit more than the standard trailer so it sat higher.

The trailer was wider than the Rav but not taller. But it still was just a big box sitting behind the vehicle.

Also...regarding the trailer. We had it in 60+ mph winds and it did great. We had it in 20° weather and it was very warm and cozy. The pop up nature of the trailer means you have no storage above waist level. Hangers on the wall were a must.

We loved that trailer though.....but our Sprinter is better.

No real input on range with R1T.
 

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Thanks for sharing these photos @Nourse Farm and welcome to the forum! How many appliances were you running with your R1T? How has it been owning your truck so far?
We were running lights, the tv, a blender, soup warmer, and air fryer. Next time, we'll plug in the freezer and refrigerators and see how those work (didn't want to overload it on day 1). Loving the truck so far!
 

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We towed our food truck (10k pounds) and was showing 130 miles range. Worked great and we powered up the lights and appliances inside without much loss in range (10 miles in two hours).
Dang! That is a TOW (and a cool idea with the "farm to fender". "Veg out"....so kind of dishes do you serve?

How many amps are the AC outlets on the Rivian? I thought it only provide a 120V/20A regular plug?
 
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