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One of the first questions you will need to answer before setting off on an RV adventure is whether or not you will tow a vehicle (commonly known as toad) behind your RV. You might even find that this question comes before determining what type of RV you will actually decide on because there are definite limitations to not having a toad or other transportation. This was the case for us as we decided early on that we wanted to be able to drive into and around in National Parks. Good luck taking your RV through the switchbacks in Canyonlands.
The question is simple and (for us anyway) the answer was simple as well. It really comes down to one simple question. Damnit, OK… TWO SIMPLE QUESTIONS.
- Will you be moving every 1-2 days or do you plan to set up camp and stay a while? If you’re setting up a camp for 3 or more days I absolutely recommend you tow or have another form of longish distance transportation (motorcycle, moped, etc) UNLESS your intent is a financial one (see question 2).
- What is the intent of your long term or full-time RV adventure? Is it just that – Adventure and to see everything you can? Or is it to chill out, enjoy some free sunsets and save some cash. I was in the middle and really interested in learning to live on less. I think you can have both, but if you are into it to see how hard you can flex your penny pinching muscles, I would have to recommend against the tow.
So that’s it; how frequently are you moving and what’s your intent? So, what else should you be asking yourself?
- What type of RV will you be traveling in? Larger the RV more apt to pulling a toad I would be.
- Do you have dogs traveling along? If we want to burn real energy we need to find a dog park which often requires the tow.
- Will you be traveling alone or with a partner? Being in close quarters for an extended period can be stressful! Honestly, it’s been super nice to take the tow vehicle to go find some me time at a coffee shop.
- Will you bring other forms of transportation? It’s possible a bicycle would be all you need depending on your route and intent.
- Are you handy and can you navigate situations if something goes wrong? I hope so (you’re moving into an RV afterall :).There is simply more to go wrong when you are towing than if you are not. On the flipside (and it’s a big flipside) if you do have issues with your RV you always have a vehicle to help you in case of emergency.
- Does your work require that you have a strong internet connection? I’ve had to head into town more than once to work for the day.
Frankly, towing a vehicle behind your RV is not nearly as intimidating or time consuming as I thought it would be. I recommend talking with someone who has used your specific tow setup so that you can understand how everything works and have a list of standard operating procedures that you follow every time you attach or detach your tow. Once you’ve decided that you are going to tow; you’ll likely be asking 2 things.
- What type of vehicle should I tow behind my RV?
- What tow bar and break system should I use to tow my vehicle behind my RV?
For the first question, I really don’t have a strong recommendation as it will depend largely on where you plan to travel. We tow a 2007 Jeep Wrangler 2-door. It weighs roughly 4k lbs or so, which is well below our 5k lbs limit and has outstanding off-road capability which was very important to us (me). Gas mileage is garbage, passenger seating limited, but it’s a good vehicle for us. I have read that the wrangler is the most popular tow vehicle because of it’s off-road capability and easy setup for flat tow, but your choice is really going to depend on how you plan to use the vehicle. The jeep is strong offroad, but gets garbage mileage; a Smart Car is super light and gets great gas mileage, but will not get you into many areas; an AWD Subaru (another popular choice) is somewhere in the middle.
The type of vehicle that you tow may also be influenced by the way that you want to tow the vehicle. Some vehicles like the Jeep, Smart Car and many Subaru’s have the ability to be flat towed meaning they are in neutral and on all 4 wheel behind your RV. Other options include 2-wheel dolly and full trailer. Each of those has pros and cons – you can find plenty of blogs about which is best and everyone has their opinions, but the vast majority of people I see on the road flat tow.
Lastly, what type of tow bar should you use? I 100, 100, 100% recommend the Brute Force Elite with Ready Brake. This tow bar is one of the only that I have found; it has the braking system built in and does not require the cumbersome setup of an electrical system. It uses simple physics to brake your tow vehicle and has worked flawlessly for me. This setup is also going to be around half the cost of a tow bar + electronic braking system. Bailey and I can be hooked up and rolling in 5-7 minutes and unhooked in even less.
Whatever you decide, I highly recommend chatting with someone who has experience with the setup you opt to go with. I have learned a lot over the months with my tow setup and would be overjoyed to pass on my learnings with new travelers. That’s the beauty about this community; everyone is happy to help 🙂