How To Prevent Leaks In RVs, Travel Trailers, And Campers

Caulking and sealing are not exciting tasks for most of us. However, the old adage that an “ounce of prevention brings a pound of relief” rings true.

Typically there are three types of sealing technologies that prevent leaks in your RV for windows, doors, hatches, and seams.  A combination of sealant quality and owner maintenance is the key to keeping things shipshape and leak-free.

Photo via iRV2

1. Compression gaskets

You may be familiar with compression gaskets found on automotive engine valve covers, which are rubber or cork gaskets between the valve cover and cylinder head and are compressed by the tightening of the valve cover bolts.

prevent leaks in your RV
A black foam compression gasket can be seen between the white body of the light fixture and wall.

The resiliency of the gasket creates a seal. The same principle is true for compression gaskets on your RV body. They are typically used to prevent leaks in your RV by sealing surface-mounted devices such as exterior lights and electrical outlets.

But, compression gaskets can potentially fail for a variety of reasons. If the bolts or screws come loose, the clamping force will be lost. Also, the gasket can dry out and will no longer remain resilient.

Further, the flange on a thin plastic light fixture requires many fasteners spaced close together to generate an even clamping force.  If there are too few fasteners, the gasket ends up compressed near the screwhead.

Also, the gasket between the screws that are far apart may not have sufficient compression to resist heavy water loads. Another concern is the width of the sealing flange. It can reduce an effective sealing surface area, making gasket alignment critical.

How to find a damaged compression gasket

Compression gaskets in your coach are commonly visible between the siding and base of the device. Obvious problems may be apparent if the gasket looks displaced, cracked, or is missing altogether. Also, lightly apply a rocking pressure to the device.

If the flange easily moves and there’s a gap, it may leak while driving on a bumpy or twisting road during a rainstorm.

rv leaks
A formed-in-place seal is commonly used for windows, vents, and hatches.

2. Formed-in-place seal

Using the valve cover analogy, this type of seal has the potential to outperform compression gaskets and is becoming more prevalent in the RV industry. It’s commonly used for windows, vents, and hatches.

One major benefit is the sealant conforms to different shapes much better than a compression gasket. Formed-in-place seals are typically captured inside the joint and may not be visible.

Sometimes you can see where the excess sealant has been squeezed out between the parts as a caulk-like extrusion. The type of sealant uses urethane and silicone materials, which simply convert the seal from a liquid to a solid, forming a rubber gasket.

How to find a damaged formed-in place seal

Look for gaps between the siding and window flanges. Generally, you should not be able to slip a piece of paper or a thin feeler gauge between the flange and the siding.

rv leaks
Worn out butyl tape around a window.

A firm but resilient material should be evident inside any gaps. Other faults of this sealant can pertain to the fact that it wasn’t applied properly or it’s not compatible with environmental exposure.

3. Filler

Filler seals are typically referred to as “butyl tape.” It’s often used to seal metal trim strips found on siding seams, wall-to-roof joints, and windows.

Butyl tape comes in rolls with various dimensions. Although it doesn’t have a “sticky side,” it does have tackiness on both surfaces.

Additionally, the tape acts as a filler and is similar to a formed-in-place gasket as excess sealant squeezes out and the remainder fills the voids.

Unlike the sealants used in formed-in-place gaskets, butyl tape has little adhesive qualities. Fastener spacing requirements are similar to compression gaskets.

It’s also more important since butyl tape is not resilient and does not “push back” when compressed.

How to find a damaged filler seal

Butyl tape can provide a long lasting seal. However, a low-quality butyl product will shrink, dry, and crack much quicker than a high-quality product.

rv leaks
Prepare a plan detailing the steps required to maintain, restore, or replace the seal.

Many times you can see where the excess butyl tape has been squeezed from the joint. A rule of thumb is if the butyl tape (that you can see) appears to be cracking, or if its dry, brittle and off-color, the tape inside the joint may be in similar condition.

More tips on sealants and finding leaks

You can ignore a strange leak at your own peril, but remember most manufacturer warranties require the owner to “inspect and re-seal” the RV at least twice a year.

It sounds easy, however, “re-sealing” to prevent leaks in your RV requires removal of windows, doors, trims, etc. Keeping moisture at bay can be done by a watchful eye on your rig.

Typically, “re-sealing” is done by running a bead of silicone over a window frame or around a hatch. While this may provide some reassurance and peace of mind, it’s not a long-term solution.

Here are some other pointers to address leaky issues:

  • Ask a professional to do a blower door test that pressurizes the RV to identify external leaks.
  • Do a survey and catalog all locations having some form of sealant that is in place and carefully inspect all the seals and record the condition.
  • Identify the type of seal and sealant used.
  • Further, to prevent leaks in your RV, prepare a plan detailing the steps required to maintain, restore, or replace the seal.

If your RV is indoors for winter, inspecting for leaks is a good spring and fall maintenance task.  When your RV is usually outdoors and under the elements, inspections should be done more frequently (at least twice a year as per many manufacturers warranties) to prevent problems before they arise.

See also: How To Inspect RVs For Leaks



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Easier Permits for Arizona’s BLM Boondocking RVers and Campers

Are you one of the thousands of BLM boondocking RVers flying south to Arizona this winter? If so you’ll love having one less thing to do before setting up camp in Yuma or Quartzsite.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) short and long term visitation area (LTVA) permit system is now digital at YourPassNow.com.

BLM Boondocking Permit Changes in Arizona, Other Destinations

Quartzsite LTVA
Arizona BLM boondocking just got easier.

Whether you’re joining snowbird crowds and headed to a Quartzsite RV rally, boating on the Colorado River or making family road trip plans to the Grand Canyon, now you can buy your recreation permit before ever leaving home.

“Purchasing a permit through YourPassNow offers our visitors improved access to recreational opportunities on public lands,” said William Mack, Jr., BLM’s Colorado River District manager. In a recent press release outlining the service,Mack reported that “This digital service will greatly improve the convenience of visiting LTVA sites for our visitors and streamline our internal BLM fee collection process.”

Between September 15 and April 15, BLM permits are required in many camping areas. For example, any camper who enjoys cheap or free BLM boondocking in popular BLM Long Term Visitor Area dispersed camping destinations like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu and Yuma must have visible BLM parking decals on their rig. Boaters cruising along the 155 miles of lower Colorado River managed by the agency must also have permits.

How the New BLM Permit System Works

Remember when you had to arrive at a BLM LTVA during business hours to get a permit before setting up camp? The new YourPassNow.com website gives you the ability to secure a permit online before ever leaving home.

After completing the online purchase process, you must print the receipt as proof of your purchase. Upon arrival in LTVA areas, you then trade it for visible BLM parking stickers. Buyers can obtain the decals during normal business hours at three LTVA stations:

  • La Posa LTVA – Tyson Wash Contact Station
  • Imperial LTVA Contact Station
  • Yuma Field Office

Once exchanged for the official permit and decal, the LTVA permit is valid for BLM boondocking at all of the Bureau of Land Management LTVAs:

  • Hot Spring
  • Imperial
  • La Posa
  • Midland
  • Mule Mountain
  • Pilot Knob
  • Tamarisk

The LTVA permits are special recreation area permits authorizing permit holders to use the LTVAs. These areas that designated as highly impacted “special areas” by the BLM. The new permit system website makes life easier for the tens of thousands of BLM boondocking enthusiasts who enjoy low cost winter camping in Arizona. Buyers must keep in mind that no discounts apply to the LTVA long term or short-visit permit fee. Unused or unwanted permits are non-refundable.

Get Permits for Many Other Destinations

BLM boondocking permits

The system is the result of a partnership between the BLM Yuma Field Office and NIC Inc., a digital government services provider. YourPassNow is the latest big news from the BLM. It’s the easiest and fastest way for road trippers to purchase advance permits. The service is good for many other popular camping destinations like Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park and Colorado National Monument.



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2019 Winter Events In Lake Havasu City, Arizona For RVers, Campers

Much like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu City in Western Arizona is a haven for snowbirds in the winter. This city along the Colorado River has year-round sunshine and endless ways to get outdoors. You can find lots of local shops to browse, restaurants to choose from, and RV resorts with 5-star amenities. The city also claims home to the iconic London Bridge, relocated from England, which now connects the mainland to an island on the river.

The area hosts over 300 events throughout the year, including a few RV rallies coming up soon in Lake Havasu State Park. Make sure you add these events to your calendar for January-February 2019!

Lake Havasu City
Buses by the Bridge. Photos via Facebook

1. Buses By The Bridge

  • Date: January 17, 2019
  • Cost: Admission: $2 per person (good all weekend). Camping: Thursday-Sunday: $40, Camping Friday-Sunday: $30, Camping Saturday & Sunday: $20
  • Location: Lake Havasu State Park

All kinds of Volkswagen buses will be rounding up at Buses By The Bridge. Over the last two decades, this event has become a popular VW rally with classic buses coming in from all over the country. Keep an eye out for panel vans, seven and nine-passenger microbuses, Kombis, and cab pickups.

Besides vintage eye candy, this weekend-long event will have activities for all ages. There will be a bouncy house for the kids while adults can partake in hot air balloon rides, raffles, a chili cook-off, and a cornhole tournament. On Sunday morning, the event will wrap up with a pancake breakfast.

There will be a parking area designated for RVs, campers, motorhomes, trailers, and non-VW vans. The 500+ spaces are first-come, first-served, and pre-registration is not required.  You can learn more about the 23rd annual event and see the full schedule from Go Lake Havasu.

2. Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair

  • Date: January 10, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – January 13, 2019 @ 3:00 pm
  • Cost: $15+ tickets, Camping costs TBD
  • Location: Lake Havasu State Park

Hot air balloons will again be soaring over Lake Havasu City at the 9th Annual Balloon Festival. You can watch mass ascensions of hot air balloons take off and float over the London Bridge and the Bridgewater Channel. There will also be a Balloon Night Glow, air shows, skydivers, special shape balloons, antique cars, and live entertainment.

Lake Havasu City
Havasu Balloon Festival. Photos via Facebook

Dry camping will be available at the festival just steps from the activities, carnival rides, and vendors. The RV parking includes pricing for 5 nights and 2 festival entrance wristbands.

Map via Go Lake Havasu

Tickets are $15 through their website and will also be sold at the gates. Alternatively, they have Gondola VIP tickets available with exclusive food, drinks, VIP parking, and prime views of the balloons.

Tents are not permitted and single nights are not available. Learn more about camping at the festival.

3. Lake Havasu Vintage Trailer Campout

  • Date: January 31, 2019 – February 2, 2019. Trailers are open to the general public on Friday and Saturday (February 1 & 2), 10am-3pm. 
  • Cost: Park entry is $3 per person; Camping costs TBD

If you love vintage trailers, you won’t want to miss the 5th Annual Vintage Trailer Campout hosted by Tin Can Tourists. This year’s event will be held by the white sandy beach in Lake Havasu State Park and have lots of cool antique trailers on display.

Vintage Trailer Campout. Photo: Tin Can Tourists

Vintage campers will be open to the public on Friday and Saturday (February 1 & 2) from 10am-3pm.  They will have dry RV campsites with no hookups, restrooms and showers, and limited power for medical devices.

Lake Havasu
Vintage Trailer Campout. Photo: Go Lake Havasu

Pets will be permitted at the event on a leash, but they are not allowed on the beach. You can learn more about the upcoming Vintage Trailer Campout from Go Lake Havasu.

See also: 8 Southwest Towns You Need To Visit This Winter



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Top 5 Best Pop-Up Campers for First Time RVers

Getting into RVing is definitely a very exciting experience, partly due to being away from technology and enjoying fresh, unpolluted air when camping and partly due to RVs of 2018 actually offering some pretty exciting features and being really affordable for first timers to get a gist of this life before getting a more expensive rig or upgrading their current one. Keeping that in mind, here’s a list of the top 5 best pop-up campers for first time RVers.

What puts an RV on the list: In our list of the possible candidates, the pop-up campers that made this list were the ones that provided a good sleeping capacity, were the most recent ones for state-of-the-art features and have a decent amount of options for upgradability. After all, you don’t purhcase an RV everyday!

The Top 5 Best Pop-up Campers For First Time RVers:

  1. Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Campers
  2. Forest River Flagstaff High Wall Pop-up Camper
  3. Sylvansport Go Pop-up Campers
  4. Jayco Jay Series Sport Pop-up Campers
  5. Forest River Rockwood Premier Pop-up Camper

#1. Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Campers

The Diverse And Novice-Friendly Camper!

View All Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
15 1503-3065 lbs 2-7 12-21 feet

Why we recommend the Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Camper: Coachmen’s clipper is one of the few pop-up campers out there with a huge number of floorplans as well as an extremely positive rating, which is quite a feat in itself. They’re obviously lightweight as well, tipping the scales at 1503 lbs in the Clipper floorplan to 3065 lbs in the Clipper floorplan. I can also hold 7 people at once in a few floorplans, which is great if you’re traveling with many people and need a place to kip at night but spend most of your other time outdoors.

As far as features go, the clipper features a sturdy tubular steel frame coupled with laminated aluminum skin walls on the outside. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by the walnut cabinetry, LED lighting, residential countertops amongst other bells and whistles you don’t normally notice in a pop-up camper. In essence, it’s one of those pop-up campers that’s great for first time RVers as well as for the ones who wish for a little more luxury in their RV.

Key Features:

  • 15 different floor plans available
  • Tubular steel frame
  • LED exterior lights
  • Walnut cabinetry
  • 12-Volt LED interior lights
  • Residential laminated countertops

Video Overview:

 

#2. Forest River Flagstaff High Wall Pop-up Camper

Mobile Luxury Available in 3 Flavors!

View All Forest River Flagstaff High Wall Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
3 3249-3721 lbs 6-7 19-21 feet

Why we recommend Forest River Flagstaff High Wall pop-up camper: Forest River’s flagstaff series is a series you’ve probably heard of as they feature brands in various RV categories. It also has over 5 different brands in the pop-up categories of which we found the Flagstaff High Wall to be the best not only because of its sleeping capacity, but also due to the fact that it its quite roomy as well, spanning 19 feet even in the shortest of its 3 floorplans; the Flagstaff High Wall, the Flagstaff High Wall and the Flagstaff High Wall.

Apart from the bare essentials, the Flagstaff High Wall has a few extra features thrown into the mix. Examples include the three-speed ventilation fan, USB charging ports, microwave, 3-burner cooktop among others. If you want more out of this rig, they also have a few options available. Check out their website for more details on this awesome pop-up camper for fist time RVers.

Key Features:

  • 3 different floor plans available!
  • Electric water pump
  • Residential style raised panel doors
  • Wood drawers with full extension metal guides
  • USB charging ports
  • Three speed ventilation fan

Video Overview:

 

#3. Sylvansport Go Pop-up Campers

Lightweight Camping Made Affordable and Easy!

View All Sylvansport Go Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
2 840 lbs 4 11 feet

Why we recommend the Sylvansport Go pop-up camper: The Sylvansport Go gained quite a lot of popularity among those who are on the lookout for a pop-up camper that is affordable and is quite portable. Weighing at a super light 840 pounds, it features 2 floorplans: the Go Standard Model and the Go Go floorplan. Both of them are identical in nearly every aspect, with the Standard model offering a little more transport capabilities.

The Go also offers many features in a compact space such as stargazing windows, insulating bed platforms to keep you warm if camping during winter, awnings in the entrance and the rear among many others. It even has a few options available such as an extension kit, self-inflating camp mattress, camp and travel organizer, and the list goes on. Needless to say that the Go is definitely one of, if not the best pop-up campers for first time RVers.1

Key Features:

  • 2 different floor plans available
  • Waterproof gear storage in top camping pod
  • Self lubricating hubs
  • Cast aluminum wheels
  • Multiple configurations for carrying gear
  • Excellent ventilation

Video Overview:

 

#4. Jayco Jay Series Sport Pop-up Camper

An Example of What Makes a Perfect Pop-up Camper!

View All Jayco Jay Series Sport Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
4 1720-2385 lbs 4-7 11-18 feet

Why we recommend the Jayco Jay Series Sport pop-up camper: Similar to the Flagstaff, the Jay Series has its roots in the pop-up camper line as well, and the Sport brand over here is nothing short of impressive, akin to its travel trailer cousin that goes by the same name. It has 4 floorplans that offer a maximum sleeping capacity of 7 and is 18 feet long (Jay Series Sport). If you’re looking for a cozier and an even lighter option, then the Jay Series Sport is the one for you.

The Jay Series Sport offers a lot in the features department as well. It primarily focuses on tailgators (which is common for people who buy pop-up campers anyway), which is clear when you notice the canopy awning wide enough to hold a table and some chairs completed with a dedicated space for an outside stove. However, head on inside and it’s just as comfortable with stereo speaker, A/C, bunk lights, 2 cubic feet refrigerators among others. As with our other choices of the best campers for first time RVers, the Sport also features many expansions, which we recommend taking a look at by clicking on the link above!

Key Features:

  • 4 different floor plans available
  • Integrated A-frame by norco
  • Removable bed braces with storage bag
  • Acrylic sink and faucet
  • Reversible dinette cushions
  • Area prepped and wired for stereo

Virtual Tour:


 

#5. Forest River Rockwood Premier Pop-up Camper

Short and Sweet!

View All Forest River Rockwood Premier Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
4 2698-2831 lbs 7-8 19 feet

Why we recommend Forest River Rockwood Premier pop-up camper: Another one of Forest River’s crazy successful lineup is the Rockwood which offer versatility, durability and are priced reasonably. The Rockwood Premier pop-up camper is a perfect example of this. It has 4 floorplans which are under 3,000 pounds dry weight and under 5,000 pounds GVWR. It also has a sleeping capacity between 7-8 people meaning this is definitely the one for you if your camping trips always involve a group of people. We recommend checking out the Rockwood Premier and the Rockwood Premier floorplans.

The Rockwood Premier has a lot to offer which is clear when you head on inside and notice the tinted vinyl windows, maple interior, USB charging ports and other doodads. It goes without saying that such a great pop-up camper also features lots of upgrade options such as 15,000 BTU air conditioner, bike rack, 40W solar panel and a screen room with privacy panels for instance. All in all, the rockwood premier is another solid choice if you’re looking for great pop-up campers.

Key Features:

  • 4 different floor plans available
  • 12V safety breaker
  • LP leak and carbon monoxide detector
  • Solar panel prep
  • Five piece sectionalized vinolon supreme tenting
  • Tinted vinyl windows

Virtual Tour:


Check out these similar RV reviews!

Top 5 Best Class A Motorhomes With Slide Outs

Top 5 Best 2018 Motorhomes With Bunk Beds For The Kids

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Pop-up campers pose a lot of advantages, especially for someone heading into RVing for the very first time. Hopefully this list will provide a good starting point for you and let you know exactly what RVs have to offer without spending a ton of money right at the beginning.

BEFORE you head to a dealer to see these trailers, download your FREE RV Buyers Worksheet for help keeping track of:

  • The feature must-haves that are important to you and your family
  • Which brands or manufacturers you like
  • Budgeting tools including a payment calculator resource
  • Multiple well spaced pages with room for lots of your notes
  • BONUS Resources: Trade-in values, tow vehicle ratings, and finance options

Share with us your favorite pop-up campers for first time RVers in the comments below!



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Top 5 Best Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel Campers

As you’re looking for a travel trailer, a fifth wheel or any RV for your next camping trip, a factor you must keep in mind is if you’re bringing any vehicles or bikes along. If there aren’t a lot of people or you’re only bringing one bike along, a simple fifth wheel with a bike rack on the back will do you just fine. But for some serious storage for those bad boys, a dedicated toy hauler is called for, which is what we’ll be discussing here. So, without any further ado, here are the top 5 best toy hauler fifth wheels:

What puts an RV on the list: The number of toy hauler fifth wheels out there might not be staggering one, but there are enough to get one quite busy for a while if they’re planning to research. We have selected the toy hauler fifth wheels which are quite spacious since the space for your vehicle will be taking quite a bit of space. We’ve also followed our standard research material and went with the ones that have the best user and critic ratings.

The Top 5 Best Toy Hauler Fifth Wheels:

  1. Forest River XLR Thunderbolt Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel
  2. Palomino Puma Unleashed Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel
  3. Keystone Cougar Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel
  4. KZ Venom Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel
  5. Keystone Raptor Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel

#1. Forest River XLR Thunderbolt Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel

Sleek and spacious!

View All Forest River XLR Thunderbolt Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
8 13462-16364 lbs 7-8 40-44 feet

Why we recommend the Forest River XLR Thunderbolt Toy Hauler fifth wheel: Forest River is a brand with its roots in almost every category of RVs out there, and toy hauler fifth wheels seem no exception to that rule. These solidly built campers are on the heavier side of things so you will need a decent tow vehicle but it’s sleeping capacity is commendable. The length starts from 40 feet with the XLR Thunderbolt 340AMP and is the highest at 44 feet with a floorplan such as the XLR Thunderbolt 415AMP.

Let’s dive into the features, then. Being a fifth wheel, you can expect all the doodads and features from its regular variants such as full sized refrigerators and high BTU furnaces. But it sets itself apart with beautiful tile flooring, crown molding in all the rooms, hid-n-screen and many other features similar to these. Of course, upgrading it is also a breeze since there are options available such as a second TV in the bedroom, myRV multiplex system, second electric awning, three 13,500 BTU air conditioners with energy management system, and this list goes on for quite a while, which is why we recommend checking out the RV page above!

Key Features:

  • 8 different floor plans available
  • Beauflor® tile pattern flooring
  • 12 cubic feet refrigerator
  • Insulated garage floor
  • Flush floor living room slideouts
  • 42,000 BTU furnace

Virtual Tour:


#2. Palomino Puma Unleashed Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel

Palomino’s Trusted Brand As a Toy Hauler!

View All Palomino Puma Unleashed Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
7 9548-10569 lbs 4-6 36-39 feet

Why we recommend Palomino Puma Toy Hauler fifth wheel: You might be familiar with the Puma Lineup which is not only a series of travel trailers and fifth wheels but also has a few floorplans to speak of in the toy hauler fifth wheels department. It’s lighter than our previous choice (Puma Unleashed 359THKS) and is shorter too, which can be perfect if you’re there aren’t a lot of people coming with. It’s sleeping capacity reflects that too, having a maximum capacity of 6 on the Puma Unleashed 351THSS.

On the outside, the Puma Unleashed features pass-thru storage, power awning, fiberglass construction and powder coated frames. Head on inside and you’ll be greeted with its gigantic ~7 feet ceiling that makes use of this height by incorporating storage on it (14-inch overhead cabinets). You can change both the look and the features to your liking with its extensive range of options and 4 different interior decor options. Bottom line: we have no reason to not recommend the Puma Unleashed as a solid choice if you’re looking for the best toy hauler fifth wheels!

Key Features:

  • 7 different floor plans available!
  • 14-inch deep overhead cabinets in super-slide models
  • Single electric track queen bed
  • Dual exterior speakers
  • Prepped for second air conditioner
  • Tri-fold sofa

Video Overview:

#3. Keystone Cougar Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel

For Those Wanting The Toy Hauler Version of The Cougar!

View All Keystone Cougar Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
2 9930 lbs 6 37 feet

Why we recommend the Keystone Cougar Toy Hauler fifth wheel: Akin to the Puma, the Keystone Cougar has is own variant of toy hauler fifth wheel, even if the brand only really has two floorplans in its name: The Cougar 326SRX and the Cougar 326SRXWE, which are almost identical to each other. But don’t let a single floorplan lead you thinking that it’s no good. Quality over quantity is the name of the game here, one which the Cougar seems to be playing really well.

Keystone certainly took their time with the interior here as it has everything you’ll ever expect from a fifth wheel. However, what makes this toy hauler fifth wheel so special is the fact that it has so many options to expand its capabilities and also a lot of packages which add a slew of different features ranging from a 12 cubic feet refrigerator to a second television in the bedroom. They are all focused towards a specific category (entertainment, comfort, etc) which makes them even more appealing and versatile, which alone is reason enough to recommend the Cougar as one of the best toy hauler fifth wheels out there!

Key Features:

  • 2 different floor plans available
  • LED interior and exterior lighting
  • Full size spare tire
  • Laminated side walls with 5-sided aluminum superstructure
  • Cabinet doors with residential hardware
  • Friction hinge entry door

Virtual Tour:


#4. KZ Venom Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel

Adventure Begins Here!

View All KZ Venom Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
9 13300-15160 lbs 7-10 37-43 feet

Why we recommend the KZ Venom Toy Hauler fifth wheel: If you’re looking for a slightly smaller but still sturdy variant of the XLR Thunderbolt then the KZ Venom is a toy hauler you should be looking at. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s just good as an alternative as it has some pretty good floorplans of its own such as the Venom V3411TK and the Venom V4114TK. They have a sleeping capacity of 7 to 10 people so if you’re planning to bring a lot of people along, you’re all set with the Venom.

KZ isn’t a lot different from any of our other choices here in terms of features, which isn’t a bad thing, since we’re discussing the best of the best here. That means all the bells and whistles ranging from a huge 48-inch TV with an entertainment system to a deep storage space and a second TV in the bedroom. It also has a lot of options, and we mean a lot so we would suggest a gander at the RV page using the link above if you’re interesting in knowing all that the Venom has to offer!

Key Features:

  • 9 different floor plans
  • 100% exterior LED running and taillights
  • Fully painted front cap with LED accent lights
  • Night roller shades throughout
  • Faux vinyl soft touch ceiling
  • USB charging station and 12-Volt power outlet

Video Overview:

#5. Keystone Raptor Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel

Truly Heavy Duty!

View All Keystone Raptor Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
11 13894-16000 lbs 7-9 38-43 feet

Why we recommend Keystone Raptor Toy Hauler Point fifth wheel: Another toy hauler from the stables of Keystone is the raptor that sports 11 floorplans ranging from roughly 13,000 to 16,000 lbs. Once again, there isn’t a lot of flexibility on the sleeping capacity since it starts with 7 on the Raptor and ends at 9 on the Raptor, making this only useful if you have lots of people tagging along. If you do, you’ll also be happy to know that they are quite spacious, ranging between 38 and 43 feet.

Listing every single feature about the Raptor could take quite a while, but in essence the selling points are the huge storage, dual air conditioners, hardwood ceiling with LED lighting, backup camera, and solar prep. Of course, it also goes without saying that you can upgrade a lot of these features or add new ones with its list of upgrades available, making the Raptor another good choice for those in the market for some toy hauler fifth wheels!

Key Features:

  • 11 different floor plans available
  • Hardwood cabinetry with shaker-style doors and hidden hinges
  • Huge pass-through storage
  • Solid surface counter tops
  • 35,000 BTU furnace
  • iN-Command Smart Automation

Virtual Tour:


Check out these similar RV reviews!

Top 5 Best Luxury Fifth Wheels

Top 5 Best Fifth Wheels For Camping With Grandchildren

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Whether it’s bringing bikes or a vehicle to your next camping trip, your venturesome soul will find these toy haulers to your satisfaction. Let the adventurous begin!

BEFORE you head to a dealer to see these trailers, download your FREE RV Buyers Worksheet for help keeping track of:

  • The feature must-haves that are important to you and your family
  • Which brands or manufacturers you like
  • Budgeting tools including a payment calculator resource
  • Multiple well spaced pages with room for lots of your notes
  • BONUS Resources: Trade-in values, tow vehicle ratings, and finance options

Share with us your favorite toy hauler fifth wheel in the comments below!



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Emergency Gear For RVers, Campers, And Travelers

You’ve probably had people tell you to “be positive” or “don’t worry.” While optimism is a valuable trait in many situations, you shouldn’t let it prevent you from knowing what to do in a crisis or buying the right emergency gear.

emergency supplies
When setting out on the road, you should always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Photo by Mark Holloway/Flickr

In-the-moment emergency supplies

  • Window breaker/Seatbelt cutter tool: If your RV is in an accident and ends up sinking in a body of water, this tool is a lifesaver (literally). It is capable of slicing cleanly through a locked seatbelt and easily breaking glass windows. The tool attaches to a keychain for easy access.
  • First-aid kit: From minor cuts and scrapes to large-scale injuries, it always pays to be prepared. You should always keep a first-aid kit in your car and RV for unexpected emergencies.
  • Fire extinguisher: This is an obvious one, but always make sure you keep a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible spot in your RV. In addition to purchasing a standard extinguisher, you can install an automatic extinguisher system in the engine compartment, behind the fridge, or throughout the rig.
  • Emergency information card: In case you are involved in an accident and are unconscious when help arrives, be sure to keep an emergency information card in your wallet or pocket at all times. You can buy one to fill out, or make your own with a laminator. Make sure to include your blood type, allergies, and emergency contacts.
  • Pepper spray: You should always have a way to defend yourself, especially while camping. Who knows when some creep is going to sneak out of the woods in the middle of the night? This pepper spray attaches to your keychain and sprays up to 10 feet.
  • Bear spray: Bear spray can be a valuable asset when camping in the woods or mountains, especially in Alaska. With a range of 35 feet, it allows you to stop wild animal attacks before they happen.
emergency equipment
Glowsticks and/or a good flashlight are essential. Photo by Félix Batista/Flickr

Long-term emergency supplies

  • Bottled water: In the event that something happens to your holding tanks and you are stranded far from civilization, it’s important to have an extra water supply. Keep enough bottled water for your group stored away in your RV.
  • Water purification tablets: If you’re low on storage, an alternative to packing bottled water is to pack water purification tablets. These can cleanse natural water sources of harmful bacteria and make them safe to drink in just 30 minutes.
  • Flash drive: It t may not seem like an emergency item, but a waterproof flash drive containing a will, vehicle titles, and other emergency documents is much more practical than carrying around loads of paperwork.
  • Analog compass: If you end up stranded in a remote area, a good old-fashioned compass is a necessity. Yes, a compass app is available for most smartphones, but if your phone dies, you’ll want a backup navigation system. A paper map of the area is a good idea as well.
  • Glow sticks: During a long-term emergency without electricity, glow sticks are a reliable and waterproof way to produce light. Use them to find your way through the RV, make necessary repairs, or get the attention of rescuers.
  • Batteries: Make sure you pack extra batteries to power devices like flashlights, radios, and walkie-talkies. The last thing you want is for the batteries in all your emergency electronics to die.
  • Portable smartphone charger: A portable smartphone charger can be useful if you wind up with a dead RV battery, especially when you can get a cell signal. This one is waterproof, solar powered, and features a built-in compass and flashlight.
  • Hand crank radio: When you don’t have cell service, you’ll need another way to get weather updates. This hand crank emergency radio warns you about threatening forecasts and requires no battery. It also features a USB port for charging your smartphone.
  • Solar battery charger: Prevent your RV battery from dying by hooking up a weatherproof solar trickle charger. Even on cloudy days, this solar panel can convert sunlight into electricity and keep your battery fully charged.
emergency
Warning triangles. Photo by StockUnlimited

Roadside emergency supplies

  • Jumper cables: Jumper cables are an essential part of any roadside emergency kit. If your RV or tow vehicle battery dies, you’ll want to restart it. Just hope that another car comes along and is willing to help.
  • Tow strap: There’s always the chance that your RV could get stuck, especially if you’re camping on the beach. This tow strap can pull up to 11,000 pounds and save your vehicle.
  • Emergency flares: Although traditional roadside flares are a common choice, these electronic ones are brighter and last for up to 12 hours. They are also safer and more environmentally friendly, as they don’t release dangerous chemicals or create a fire hazard.
  • Wheel chocks: Use wheel chocks when parking your trailer to prevent it from rolling away, either at the campsite or on the side of the road during an emergency. They might seem like an unnecessary precaution, but the second your trailer starts to leave without you, you’ll wish you had used the chocks.
  • Warning triangles: Give other drivers time to slow down by placing emergency warning triangles along the road behind your broken-down vehicle. You can use these during the day or at night.
  • Safety whistle: If your vehicle malfunctions and you end up stranded without cell service, a safety whistle can save your life. Use it to signal to anyone within a mile.
  • Motor oil: Don’t get stuck without motor oil. Bring some with you so that you can change it if you need to, and bring a funnel to make it easier on yourself.
  • Extra fuel: When camping, it’s easy to run low on fuel far from a gas station. Keep a supply of extra gas or diesel with you, and avoid becoming stranded in the wilderness.
  • Cash: Not many people carry cash with them these days, but you should definitely keep some in your tow car or RV. You never know when you’ll want to thank someone for their help in an emergency (or bribe them to help you).
emergency
When you’re out in the boondocks, you can’t always call AAA. Photo by Jeremy Holmes/Flickr

Emergency repair supplies

  • Extra fuses: It may not be a life-threatening emergency, but blowing a fuse in your RV can definitely make your trip less enjoyable than you planned. Pack extra fuses and avoid the issue altogether, but be sure to check what type of fuse your vehicle uses.
  • Toolkit: It’s good to have some basic tools with you for any minor repairs you have to make on your trip. With this 79-piece, multi-purpose toolset, you can fix everything from loose screws to leaky faucets.
  • Multi-tool pocket knife: For small but crucial repairs, you might not want to lug around your toolkit. Keep this multitool pocket knife handle to fix any small problems your RV might be having.
  • Duct tape: Never underestimate the value of duct tape, no matter where you are. Shattered window? Prevent shards of glass from falling back into the RV by taping it up. Broken taillight? Use this transparent duct tape to fix it and keep you and your family safe on the road.
  • Battery terminal cleaner: Prevent your RV battery from malfunctioning with a battery terminal cleaner. Use it at least once a month to remove all corrosion from the terminal.
  • Headlamp: You never know when you might need to make some nighttime repairs on the road. A headlamp frees up both hands and allows you to see what you’re working on.
  • Disposable gloves: When making repairs in the engine compartment and other grimy areas, it can be very helpful to have a pair of nitrile gloves on hand. You should always keep a pair in your first-aid kit as well.
  • Rain poncho: A rain poncho can also be helpful for those drizzly roadside repairs. The last thing you want is to be soaking wet while trying to fix a tire.
  • Tire repair kit: When you’re out in the boondocks, you can’t always call AAA. This tire repair kit comes with everything you need to fix a punctured tire. As a last resort, always carry a spare tire for your car and RV as well.
emergency
Stay safe this winter. Photo by oddharmonic/Flickr

Cold weather emergency supplies

  • Ice scraper: Be prepared for a windshield full of ice in the morning whenever you camp in a snowy spot. This ice scraper/snow brush combo lets you scrape off that frozen layer and drive safely.
  • Tire chains: When driving in icy areas, be sure to fit your motorhome or trailer and tow car with chains. You’ll be grateful for the extra traction when you no longer have to slide around dangerously on the road.
  • Snow shovel: Always remember to bring a snow shovel when traveling in chilly weather. No one wants to be snowed into their campsite with no way to dig themselves out.
  • Hand warmers: In the event that your heater should fail when you’re stuck somewhere cold, hand warmers can provide heat inside clothing or sleeping bags. This pack of 40 air-activated heating packs will warm the whole family.
  • Rainproof blanket: You should always keep a rainproof emergency blanket tucked away in case you find yourself stranded in a freezing environment. You might break down on the side of the road with a broken heater, so make sure you have a way to keep you and your family warm and dry.
  • Waterproof matches: If your RV breaks down and you are stranded without electricity or propane, a fire can keep you warm and heat up your food. Keep a pack of these waterproof matches in your RV at all times.

Accidents happen, and you should always be ready for the unexpected. Having the right gear can be helpful and even save your life in the event of an emergency. Stay safe and add these supplies to your packing list.

See also: Be Prepared For Disaster On The Road



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Best Places To Visit In Astoria, Oregon For RV Campers

Astoria, Oregon has long been associated with the historical Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06. After leaving Camp Dubois near St. Louis on May 14, 1804, the Corps of Discovery (as the mission was called) arrived at the Pacific Ocean in early November 1805, camping at Fort Clatsop in Astoria.

Astoria
The Astoria-Megler Bridge connects Astoria, Oregon to Washington State, spanning over the Columbia River. Photo via Ron Reiring/Wikipedia

Today, just a few miles from Fort Clatsop, visitors camp at Lewis & Clark Golf & RV Park. This is a convenient home base before embarking on your own discovery of the area. Offering 35 sites, Lewis & Clark Golf & RV Park also features full hookups, including 30/50 amp electrical, water, sewer, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and a pet area. Fully-furnished cottages are also available.

Oregon
Astoria Column

The nine-hole golf course is a great place to practice your short game. Opened in 2005, the par 36 Lewis & Clark Public Golf Course measures 2,738 yards from the longest tees. The course features two sets of tees for different skill levels. Though the fairways are decent, seven of the greens are artificial, so keep that in mind. Overall, it’s a great little course to get some practice on your irons while getting some exercise.

You can also get some exercise by exploring local attractions like the Astoria Column. Modeled after Trajan’s Column in Rome, the 125-foot tall concrete column overlooks the Columbia River, offering scenic panoramic views. While the city of Astoria is home to approximately 10,000 people, it’s estimated that 400,000 visit the Astoria Column each year.

For those interested in history, you can spend days exploring the numerous Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks scattered throughout Astoria and parts of southwest Washington State.

There are also several interesting museums in Astoria, including the Oregon Film Museum, Heritage Museum, Hanthorn Cannery Museum, and Flavel House Museum. The star of the show is the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which opened in 1962. This impressive museum contains the largest collection of Pacific Northwest maritime artifacts in the country.

There’s a lot more to see and do around Astoria, Oregon. Drive over the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Washington State for scenic views of the Columbia River and check out Fort Stevens State Park on the coast to see a century-old abandoned shipwreck.

For more information on the area, visit TravelAstoria.com. You can also read more about Lewis & Clark Golf & RV Park on RV Park Reviews.



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