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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Ya’ll... Over the past two months I’ve been on the search and considering purchasing a travel trailer/camper for my Element. Because I travel the country for work so often, I really wanted something with a bathroom and kitchen. I’ve been looking for a 16-19’ Camper and finally found one. I’ve done the research and I’m currently making accommodations for the heavy load on my Element. (IE: Rear spring support, trailer brakes and brake controller, and currently now looking into even a transmission cooler). I’m about ready to make the purchase but I’m starting to get worried like this might not be a good idea.

The camper is an 18’ Fleetwood that weighs approx. 2500-3000lb loaded. I’ve read about the debatable and modest US trailer weight limit of 1500lbs without trailer brakes but also cross referenced the comparable Australian 3500lb max limit WITH trailer brakes. With the Element weighing just over 3600lbs itself, Class 3 hitches designed for 5000lbs, and brake controllers being designed to use boost modes to accommodate pulling loads over vehicle weights even, I would think this would be doable. BUT after hours and hours of reading I haven’t found anyone who has pulled this kind of weight with their Element. Has anyone had experience with this kind of weight?

My Element is an 04’ LX AWD MT with 270k miles on it. Am I just asking for it? Is this not going to happen?

I would be traveling some initial high miles (1500 Miles) with the camper but planning on detaching it for several months before my next journey with it connected. I do however want the ability to move without hesitation or worry should the occasion arise, so possibly traveling with it frequently attached might be a necessary consideration.

Any advice here is greatly appreciated. I really want to get this thing. Obviously, I don’t want to destroy my Element in one swoop either. I’m just starting to get worried this might be a bad idea or it just might not be possible. I’m supposed to be getting a new hitch installed tomorrow but if this just insane then there’s really no need for me to.
 

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As someone who has pulled a 1400 pound Aliner trailer for over 40,000 miles while touring the US I would like to offer my opinion on towing a 3000 pound trailer with an Element:

You can probably do it but it will not be fun. Plan on being in the lower gears when climbing even the slightest grade or driving into a stiff headwind.

Good luck.
 

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I would imagine that with a 3k lb trailer your tongue weight will easily be over 300 lbs and this is not going to make for safe driving at all.

The front wheels will be pulled from the road basically and steering and handling will be tricky and I doubt this will be subtle either.

I don't know if you can even use a WDH on an Element to level it back up but this is so far above any reasonable margin for safety that I hope you do not try it.

As for the US vs non US ratings for an Element,I have no personal knowledge that these are really identical vehicles and I know Lawyers and Judges and Insurance Companies would have a field day with any arguments like that too.

Also I do know from personal experience that Trailer Makers are notorious for under rating the weight of a loaded trailer and many drivers also have no realistic idea about trailers weight even while towing it!
If you did not weigh the rig yourself while loaded for the road,do not trust the weight anyone tells you ever.

It seems like you already know this pretty much too?
There is a reason you have not been able to find people who have overloaded an Element this much.

I tow a lot and have a Fiberglass RV that I use for Work/Camping mostly like you describe.
There are plenty of folks over on fiberglassrv.com who "discuss" towing with the Element and CRV and no lack of opinion and experience with them too,I would sure visit the site and search and read some more.
Many have towed around 2000 lbs and many more have been worried about them but I have yet to read of anyone trying to go cross country with 1k more than that,ever.

You can buy Tacomas and Frontiers used pretty cheap that would have little trouble with a trailer like this too and that is what I have done and would suggest that you do too!
 

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And a note about "class 3 hitches that can pull 5000 lbs". To get a capacity that big, the hitch has to be fastened to a frame capable of supporting as much. The frame on the Element is just made of thin sheet metal - so no matter how big the hitch is, the actual capacity isn't any larger.

People opt for class three hitches for the convenience of the 2" draw bar and the fact that Honda over-charged three times as much for the OEM teeny-tiny hitch.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You guys rock. Thanks. I’m thinking more and more that that’s what I needed to hear. My stubborn and overly confident exploratory nature can sometimes get the best of me hence why I travel so much in the first place. But I think I needed to kind of be brought back down a little from this potentially dangerous decision. My spidey senses were telling me something.

I did notice everyone towing campers that big all have trucks. That was definitely a sign. And anyone with an SUV towing these all had 6-8 cylinder engines IE:Jeeps. Even though the Element looks like it’s big enough and can handle a lot, I guess when it comes to towing the fact is, it can’t.

I already travel with a pretty heavy load, so I figured getting it out of the payload and into/on a trailer might be beneficial. But maybe that was just a pipe dream. Plus with the mileage I have, any extra stress really isn’t necessary.

Back to the drawing board I guess. A tipi has been a thought, but throwing 14-18 long wooden poles on the roof might just be overdoing it also. A kitchen and bathroom would be oh so nice.

I don’t want to have to do it again but a van just might be my only choice here. That or pay ridiculous rent for a non returnable apartment.... nah ;)

Thank you guys for chiming in.
 

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A tipi has been a thought, but throwing 14-18 long wooden poles on the roof might just be overdoing it also.
That brought back a memory from my youth - had to share it.

I used to do a lot of long distance bike riding, and that was back when recumbent bikes were unheard of and always a novelty that got a lot of questions from the other riders. Can't ride em any more but I still dream!
Anyway, we were camped overnight at a military college and one of the riders was being supported by his family who were living in a van. What brought up the memory was your idea of a teepee. There was (and I suppose they're still popular) a form that only uses one center pole and you stake down the corners to hold out the shape.
This bunch had one, a large one at that, but they had it permanently set up in a utility trailer they pulled behind the van. For the life of me, I don't know what they did when they got to tree branches or low phone wires but I did watch them drive in and drive out with it.

I suppose next, somebody will eventually come out with a popup teepee...
 

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Short answer: Yes, you are crazy.
 

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I think you are only crazy if you let this stop your dream!
There are plenty of options once you understand the limitations of your tow and I know several people who full time in 13' trailers happily!

The more you earn about light weight options the closer you can get to something more practical for the Element for sure.

Like I said look at FiberglassRV for one as there are 13' Eggs that an Element will tow that are small but mighty.
If fitted out light enough a 16' may be doable.

Recently I have been converting small Cargo Trailers into Campers too and this is another way you may be able to go.
You are really only limited by your imagination and determination to get something to work with what you have.

If I am camping alone I rarely carry any water on board for instance and use Campground Bathrooms and that can lighten you up a lot and if you need to be in a warm climate your needs are a lot less than cold too.

Learning the options and putting something together just right for you is easily half the fun for me.
 

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The camper is an 18’ Fleetwood that weighs approx. 2500-3000lb loaded. I’ve read about the debatable and modest US trailer weight limit of 1500lbs without trailer brakes but also cross referenced the comparable Australian 3500lb max limit WITH trailer brakes.
Comparable Australian what?

SUVs in general tend to be built tougher for the ausie market.

You can't compare the element to something sold in Australia.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Short answer: Yes, you are crazy.
Thanks psschmied. Brutal honesty always appreciated. ;)

I think you are only crazy if you let this stop your dream!
There are plenty of options once you understand the limitations of your tow and I know several people who full time in 13' trailers happily!

The more you earn about light weight options the closer you can get to something more practical for the Element for sure.

Like I said look at FiberglassRV for one as there are 13' Eggs that an Element will tow that are small but mighty.
If fitted out light enough a 16' may be doable.

Recently I have been converting small Cargo Trailers into Campers too and this is another way you may be able to go.
You are really only limited by your imagination and determination to get something to work with what you have.

If I am camping alone I rarely carry any water on board for instance and use Campground Bathrooms and that can lighten you up a lot and if you need to be in a warm climate your needs are a lot less than cold too.

Learning the options and putting something together just right for you is easily half the fun for me.
Thanks a million AVservice314. I’m still looking to figure something out. I just really need something for the Winter months with a bathroom and kitchen. Not sure if the fiberglass ones will hold out but I’m going to look into it. A lot of the older vintage campers come in that smaller range weighing in from 1500-2000lbs. Practically all of them have kitchens, but not all showers. Without an indoor kitchen or shower, the whole camper idea really isn’t worth it for what I’m trying to do. I’m planninb to be in MT in about a month. They have great small vintage campers there born to be in the cold.


The camper is an 18’ Fleetwood that weighs approx. 2500-3000lb loaded. I’ve read about the debatable and modest US trailer weight limit of 1500lbs without trailer brakes but also cross referenced the comparable Australian 3500lb max limit WITH trailer brakes.
Comparable Australian what?

SUVs in general tend to be built tougher for the ausie market.

You can't compare the element to something sold in Australia.
Although possibly true, I clearly remember reading a few references that showed absolutely zero difference in the build of the Elements and CRV’s from the US vs. one’s in Australia. The only difference noted was that of the towing capacity. It was noted that this was likely because of insurance reasons, illustrating that one required trailer brakes(AUS) and the other didn’t.(US) I’ll try and find the posts tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Desinia... awesome.

I’ve been wanting a tipi forever now. The canvas can easily fit in the hatch of the Element but it’s really expensive. (About as much as a camper.) The poles might require a trailer. If I already didn’t have so much weight in my Element already, I would’ve been surfing sticks months ago. But unfortunately I do. Plus putting then up and breaking them down takes a bit much for short stays every now and then. That single pole approach sounds super interesting though. What size are we talking here?
 

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What I am trying to say is that you should be able to find a self contained trailer with a Full Bath & Kitchen that the Element can tow BUT it will need to be very tiny to make it within the limits of the Element.

You might be able to pull a 13' Scamp.Burro or Casita with full Kitchen and Bath but these are also just a 10' cozy trailer inside the shell.
I love mine but they are not for everyone.I prefer sleeping on my own bed though and am willing to compromise ultimate space to do so as are many of my friends.

With an Element as a tow car you probably have few choices.

The Rigs you dream of born for Montana will be too heavy and there was little consideration given to weight back then at all.

Classic rigs usually translate to pricey along with heavy so I think most are not a realistic option either.

Molded Fiberglass on the other hand which I keep mentioning from my own search and ownership experience is both light weight and strong and long lasting as there is no internal "Stick" framing to make the sides stay up and also no metal siding to seal yet continue to leak too.

There are really just 2 kinds of trailer in the end,ones that leak and ones that do not leak yet!
Fiberglass are much less prone to leaking as the only penetrations needed thru the solid fiberglass are for the windows and doors and those can be pretty easily cared for to keep them dry.
All other Stick Built Trailers are just more prone to leaking and damage inside from water,not something I want to deal with at all.

Learn all yo can if you really need to tow with the E!
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Thanks AVservice314. I’ve been looking at the fiberglass alternatives but everything I’ve found has been way out of my budget compared to the standard camper. I don’t have a lot to invest in this unfortunately.

Plus, as much as I have invested in the upkeep of my Element, the reality is it’s up there in age. (Not to say it won’t keep on going.) It’s just I feel I should consider how much I invest in add-on’s for it vs. how much abuse it can handle and weigh them proportionally.

Where as considering spending $7k on a camper because of size and weight compatability reasons might a bit overkill. I do realize it would be something I could keep down the line or possibly sell.

I was considering building my own camper though. Has anyone tried an ultra light tiny home alternative option for the Element?

Something to live in would be excellent but not for seven grand more. At that cost, I might as well sell the Element, buy a truck or 4runner, and not risk the damage.

I think you’re right... towing with the Element is something that takes careful consideration and cost effective accommodations. It might not be an economical option for me.

I am glad I didn’t jump on the purchase though and set myself up for too much trouble.
 

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http://www.tnttt.com/viewforum.php?f=42

This is where I got started with this.

Here is my first one,I paid less than 2k for this trailer with the windows already there and brand new.

http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=65711&hilit=ezdog

Also Fiberglass has gotten crazy with prices pretty much like with Elements really but there are still cheap ones out there to be found.

The more you know the more likely you might find a deal.


Thanks AVservice314. I’ve been looking at the fiberglass alternatives but everything I’ve found has been way out of my budget compared to the standard camper. I don’t have a lot to invest in this unfortunately.

Plus, as much as I have invested in the upkeep of my Element, the reality is it’s up there in age. (Not to say it won’t keep on going.) It’s just I feel I should consider how much I invest in add-on’s for it vs. how much abuse it can handle and weigh them proportionally.

Where as considering spending $7k on a camper because of size and weight compatability reasons might a bit overkill. I do realize it would be something I could keep down the line or possibly sell.

I was considering building my own camper though. Has anyone tried an ultra light tiny home alternative option for the Element?

Something to live in would be excellent but not for seven grand more. At that cost, I might as well sell the Element, buy a truck or 4runner, and not risk the damage.

I think you’re right... towing with the Element is something that takes careful consideration and cost effective accommodations. It might not be an economical option for me.

I am glad I didn’t jump on the purchase though and set myself up for too much trouble.
 

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Thanks psschmied. Brutal honesty always appreciated. ;)



Thanks a million AVservice314. I’m still looking to figure something out. I just really need something for the Winter months with a bathroom and kitchen. Not sure if the fiberglass ones will hold out but I’m going to look into it. A lot of the older vintage campers come in that smaller range weighing in from 1500-2000lbs. Practically all of them have kitchens, but not all showers. Without an indoor kitchen or shower, the whole camper idea really isn’t worth it for what I’m trying to do. I’m planninb to be in MT in about a month. They have great small vintage campers there born to be in the cold.




Although possibly true, I clearly remember reading a few references that showed absolutely zero difference in the build of the Elements and CRV’s from the US vs. one’s in Australia. The only difference noted was that of the towing capacity. It was noted that this was likely because of insurance reasons, illustrating that one required trailer brakes(AUS) and the other didn’t.(US) I’ll try and find the posts tomorrow.
Yes You are correct that there is a CRV with a higher towing capacity rating but it was diesel.

The CRV also has bigger brakes than the Element.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
http://www.tnttt.com/viewforum.php?f=42

This is where I got started with this.

Here is my first one,I paid less than 2k for this trailer with the windows already there and brand new.

http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=65711&hilit=ezdog

Also Fiberglass has gotten crazy with prices pretty much like with Elements really but there are still cheap ones out there to be found.

The more you know the more likely you might find a deal.


Awesome. So good to see and thank you. I have a feeling we work in similar industries. ;) I love the carpeted walls. So perfect.

And another similarity... I just recently drove from Maine to CA. That’s the thing... I travel way far distances so stability and simplicity is my number one issue.

That is exactly what I’m looking to do though. I would really like to do the shower and small kitchen thing also. Which means I’ve got to learn a few things about plumbing, gas lines, and installations. Looking forward to it though.

I’m going to keep my eyes out for an empty trailer and see what I can concoct.

Plus I would feel A MILLION times better about building it from scratch myself knowing everything was solid rather than trusting 20-40 years of prior use against the elements. I’d also feel a lot better about transferring it to another vehicle should it be a necessity.

Does your Element pull that trailer with ease? How much did it weigh after you got done with it?
 

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Well not too much mystery as to what I do,it pretty much says so in my name here!

I have no idea of the weight really and it didn't matter for me as I have Trucks to pull when on the road,
I know that I will never trust a weight that anyone tells me without weighing one myself too as I have learned the hard way that they are ALWAYS heavier than I am told?

My Element is just for around town service and light installs and I have a Sprinter for the real work.

I also didn't want any Water in this one since I already have a fully loaded Casita with everything in it and try not to use Water inside if I can help it most of the time.

Wherever I am working I am either at an open campground with full facilities or at the clients driveway and can use the facilities in the house so it is just so much more simple if I am not using water on board really.

On the other hand I understand you wanting a Bath and it is not hard to build one like that either you just need to read and figure out your options and build from there.

I would not try to pull the that Cargo with the Element though,it is too much. I got the 7' wide model so that the bed could go across the rear and not need to take up floor space along the side. I can still easily use the trailer for cargo this way and the bed unit also just pops out as needed.

I will say that I probably have around $500 in the conversion on top of the trailer cost so you can sure do it pretty cheaply if you try.

That site is full of ideas and pictures to help get you on your way for sure!

Are you in Maine?
I am back up there in a few weeks probably and what a drive!
Luckily this time the house is open already so I will be staying there.
If so where are you? I will be in NE Harbor.


Awesome. So good to see and thank you. I have a feeling we work in similar industries. ;) I love the carpeted walls. So perfect.

And another similarity... I just recently drove from Maine to CA. That’s the thing... I travel way far distances so stability and simplicity is my number one issue.

That is exactly what I’m looking to do though. I would really like to do the shower and small kitchen thing also. Which means I’ve got to learn a few things about plumbing, gas lines, and installations. Looking forward to it though.

I’m going to keep my eyes out for an empty trailer and see what I can concoct.

Plus I would feel A MILLION times better about building it from scratch myself knowing everything was solid rather than trusting 20-40 years of prior use against the elements. I’d also feel a lot better about transferring it to another vehicle should it be a necessity.

Does your Element pull that trailer with ease? How much did it weigh after you got done with it?
 

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Yes You are correct that there is a CRV with a higher towing capacity rating but it was diesel.

The CRV also has bigger brakes than the Element.
also, Australian speed limits are much lower than US limits, so braking demands are less.
 
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