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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've read through probably a half dozen or more previous posts already today, so sincerely thank everyone who's already contributed to my knowledge on the Ascent's towing capabilities. There's some very good information on here.

My wife and I are about to purchase a travel trailer as long as I can get myself comfortable with the Ascent being able to handle it. We are looking to do a pretty long road trip through the likes of CO, WY, UT, MT. Only towing for a day or two on the weekends and then sitting still during the weeks.

For reference, I have the 2020 Ascent Limited and got the Subaru standard hitch mount from the dealership. Rated for 5,000 lbs towing and 500 lb hitch weight. I have some towing experience, but limited to popups, boats, jet skis.

We are currently debating between two campers:

1. 3,730 lbs dry weight, 480 lbs hitch weight, 22 ft long
2. 4,124 lbs dry weight, 380 lbs hitch weight, 25 ft long

We were all set on option #1 but then started getting scared about pushing that 500 lb hitch weight, which I'm sure we'll do once we start loading cargo. The second option seems much safer on the hitch weight, and we could certainly monitor the cargo to keep it under 4,500 lbs or so. The heart of my question is really quite simple... which is safer for this vehicle? If we push the 500 lb hitch weight what is the real risk there? Obviously Subaru wouldn't cover any warranty if something were to happen and we were over their prescribed limits. And don't worry, I know not to get a weight distributing hitch! But I also worry that 4,500 lbs through the CO mountains might get a little treacherous at times.

The length difference also worries me a bit, but when we're already talking about 22 feet I can't imagine another 3 feet makes a tremendous difference.

Any and all thoughts welcome. Thanks!
 

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You do not want to exceed the tongue weight at all and with only 20 lbs of room left with option one...that's going to be a real dance. The effects of exceeding your tongue weight are decreased steering and braking efficiency because the front end of the tow vehicle starts to get "light". That can really become a disaster. I've personally experienced how squirrely handling can get in that circumstance and let's just say, it was an underwear changing event result. It sounds like your option 2 has a completely different balance design. Just be sure you understand what their weight specifications include, especially if they are different brands of trailer, so you're comparing apples to apples.
 
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Hitch weight/tongue weight is a variable and depends on how the trailer is loaded. A manufacturer's hitch/tongue weight reported on a Website, or the like, is an average as the trailer leaves the factory.

Dry weight (unloaded vehicle weight - UVW/Dry Weight) reported on the manufacturer's Website is an average for a unit without any options and the delivered weight is usually on the trailer and more often than not, higher to much higher than what is posted on the manufacturer's Web site.

On the Coachmen Website for my Apex Nano 187RB the UVW is listed at 3054 lb. and on my trailer is posted a sticker with 3100 lb.

The tongue weight should be in the 10% to 11% range of the weight of the fully loaded, ready to travel, trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hitch weight/tongue weight is a variable and depends on how the trailer is loaded. A manufacturer's hitch/tongue weight reported on a Website, or the like, is an average as the trailer leaves the factory.

Dry weight (unloaded vehicle weight - UVW/Dry Weight) reported on the manufacturer's Website is an average for a unit without any options and the delivered weight is usually on the trailer and more often than not, higher to much higher than what is posted on the manufacturer's Web site.

On the Coachmen Website for my Apex Nano 187RB the UVW is listed at 3054 lb. and on my trailer is posted a sticker with 3100 lb.

The tongue weight should be in the 10% to 11% range of the weight of the fully loaded, ready to travel, trailer.
Thanks for the reply. Really appreciate it. Ken, based on your comment, does that mean option 1 if delivered at 3,800 lbs really should have an actual tongue weight of ~380 lbs and not the 480 listed? Seems like a big gap.
 

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Unloaded hitch weight is just that. Its not a set in stone weight in any sense, it will vary with where you put your cargo. Would you mind posting the make and models of the trailers, that will alow some better comments on your choices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

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Two things. 1. You need to know if that 380 lb hitch weight is with the propane and battery or without.
2. You need to hitch both of them up and see how they tow.

Specs are just numbers on paper, how it feels when it's on the road is really going to be what matters. Personally, the 2nd one looks a bit too heavy, unless its weighed as equipped on the lot. Your thinking is right in that the 3 ft of extra trailer makes little difference, however, the extra axle will. My guess is the 2nd one will tow better. If the weight is within spec and it tows good to you go for it.

According to this walk around the puma is 4336 lbs dry as equipped from the factory. You need to get a good visual of the weight sticker to see if hitch weight is listed.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Two things. 1. You need to know if that 380 lb hitch weight is with the propane and battery or without.
2. You need to hitch both of them up and see how they tow.

Specs are just numbers on paper, how it feels when it's on the road is really going to be what matters. Personally, the 2nd one looks a bit too heavy, unless its weighed as equipped on the lot. Your thinking is right in that the 3 ft of extra trailer makes little difference, however, the extra axle will. My guess is the 2nd one will tow better. If the weight is within spec and it tow good to you go for it.
Definitely appreciate the input. You are correct that the 4,100 is not as equipped on the lot - I looked closed at the sticker for the model on the lot for Option 2 and it’s almost 4,400 on delivery, so a bit more than the 4,100 from the manufacturer specs. That certainly worries me a bit as we wouldn’t want to load it down much more than that, but the extra leniency on the hitch weight is a plus in my opinion.
 

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Definitely appreciate the input. You are correct that the 4,100 is not as equipped on the lot - I looked closed at the sticker for the model on the lot for Option 2 and it’s almost 4,400 on delivery, so a bit more than the 4,100 from the manufacturer specs. That certainly worries me a bit as we wouldn’t want to load it down much more than that, but the extra leniency on the hitch weight is a plus in my opinion.
Tandem axles help alot in all those regards. If the hitch weight didn't include propane and a battery you will be adding 37lbs per tank plus 60lb or so for a lead acid battery.
 

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Thanks for the reply. Really appreciate it. Ken, based on your comment, does that mean option 1 if delivered at 3,800 lbs really should have an actual tongue weight of ~380 lbs and not the 480 listed? Seems like a big gap.
The dry tongue weight listed is always the actual tongue weight of the trailer as sold, without the addition of cargo which can raise or lower the tongue weight depending upon where it's located.

Most travel trailers place their propane tanks, batteries, and cargo holds in front of the axle(s). This usually results in a loaded tongue weight significantly heavier than the dry tongue weight. Therefore, you want to start off with the best possible gap between the dry tongue weight and the maximum tongue weight as practical to account for the cargo.

In addition, you then need to keep the tongue weight between 9-14% of the loaded weight of the trailer. So, if your 4,124 lb dry weight trailed ended up weighing 4800 lbs loaded, you would need to ensure the tongue weight was between 432-672 lbs for proper handling, but in the case of the Ascent, you could not go above 500 lbs.

Yes, this is tricky, and finding the right trailer is difficult. My advice is to select a trailer where the weights all work correctly for the tow vehicle. Do not select a trailer that is already pushing the limits and then try to make it work by moving the cargo around into places where it doesn't belong in an attempt to balance it properly. If the weights of the trailer do not look right for the tow vehicle, find another trailer, or consider another tow vehicle.
 

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Our trailer is slightly longer than the puma but weighs less as delivered. Our hitch weight as equipped was 410 lbs, with a full freshwater tank and loaded for camping we are in the 4500 lb range. And tongue weight is right about 500 lbs and that works pretty well for me. And I would recommend a heavier tandem over a single axle trailer any day of the week.

4833
 

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I just bought a TT with 516 tongue and 4000 unloaded. It is the Apex Nano 208BHS with all the packages added, so I know delivered is going to have a bit more weight. Not yet delivered but I know for sure the Subaru will handle the extra tongue weight and I can shift the weight behind the axles. I have been bringing this subject up everywhere since I was pretty worried about my trailer being over weight as well but I just figured time to stop worrying! One thing I would recommend is a tandem for sure, they do tow better and that is one of the issues I was coming into where all the tandem bunkhouses come in around 4k.

Just get out and have fun!
 

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Sorry for the tangent, but is that a wrap or paint? Pretty cool!

Our trailer is slightly longer than the puma but weighs less as delivered. Our hitch weight as equipped was 410 lbs, with a full freshwater tank and loaded for camping we are in the 4500 lb range. And tongue weight is right about 500 lbs and that works pretty well for me. And I would recommend a heavier tandem over a single axle trailer any day of the week.

View attachment 4833
 

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Wrap, installed a week after purchase. Its showing a few nicks now after a year, but better than damaged paint. Its nice to know there is brand new paint under it as well.
What brand did you decide on? I've been considering a clear wrap to help prevent trail pinstriping when off-roading.
 

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I just bought a TT with 516 tongue and 4000 unloaded. It is the Apex Nano 208BHS with all the packages added, so I know delivered is going to have a bit more weight. Not yet delivered but I know for sure the Subaru will handle the extra tongue weight and I can shift the weight behind the axles. I have been bringing this subject up everywhere since I was pretty worried about my trailer being over weight as well but I just figured time to stop worrying! One thing I would recommend is a tandem for sure, they do tow better and that is one of the issues I was coming into where all the tandem bunkhouses come in around 4k.

Just get out and have fun!
This is simply not good advice for someone in the process of choosing a trailer. There are many trailers available with the proper weights for the Ascent, so what's the point of choosing one that's too heavy? Starting off with a dry tongue weight which already exceeds the Ascent's maximum tongue weight is certainly not advisable, the tongue weight usually gets considerably heavier as you add cargo. It's not as simple as saying that you know for sure the Subaru will handle the extra tongue weight, even if it could, you're taking weight off of the front axle which can adversely affect steering.

Unless you have rear cargo holds in back of the axle, which is rare, how are you going to shift the weight behind the axle(s)? Stuff the rear bathroom full of cargo that belongs in the cargo holds? Move the propane tanks and batteries from where they belong? Load the grey and black water tanks, reducing their capacity? What's the point of all this trouble when someone can simply buy a properly sized trailer in the first place?

Folks, do yourself a huge favor and select a trailer that is properly spec'd for your tow vehicle.
 

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Orafol is the brand. Pretty much any of them will do that. But really if you are paying why not do something different. Light scratches aren't even a worry, and the clear coat is self-healing in the sunlight.
Hasn't healed since Ocala. :ROFLMAO: :cry:

I need to do some serious buffing. I have some 3M I was thinking of using in the generally worst hit areas, or body side graphics.
 
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