Filed under: The RVs We Drive
why we chose a toy hauler…
Toy haulers are popular with those rvers who enjoy getting out with their ‘toys’ – toys like quads, dirt bikes, and razors (even a golf cart here and there). While we have a quad and a couple of dirt bikes, we store them while we are on the road, and they don’t come along with us. But a toy hauler is still our first choice of rv – we are hauling cargo, but our cargo is sleeping quarters! With 11 kids, 9 or 10 who currently travel with us, there is just not another rv that will comfortably sleep us. Well, an entertainer coach would, but the ones we like are ever so slightly out of our price range (about $400k out of our price range!)
When we started out on our fulltiming ventures, we began in the bunkhouse pull behind that we had been camping in for the previous 4 years. While it was perfect for our camping excursions, once we decided that a life on the road was for us, we did desire a bit more room than our 30′ travel trailer afforded. Hitting the rv dealerships soon introduced us to toy haulers; any rv that advertised that it could sleep 10 or 12 would obviously turn our heads, and we couldn’t help but see the potential for more room for our family in one of these beasts (we only looked at the 40′ers :)). It wasn’t long before we had convinced ourselves that this was the rig for us – at least the toy hauler design. Finding the actual rig took us 3 months (and now we are shopping for a new one because we didn’t do enough research into who builds quality rvs and who doesn’t…).
So, after having a toy hauler for the past 20 months, hauling it over 30 thousand miles thru 34 states, and modding it fairly extensively, what have we learned? That if you are looking to haul ‘stuff’ – any sort of stuff whether it be quads, kids, quilting or shooting or woodworking…supplies, or even a portable kitchen for doing reenactment faires and rendezvous, a toy hauler, with it’s garage, is a very versatile way to get away with just one trailer for both comfortable living and room for hauling. (disclaimer: you are responsible for your own cargo weight issues – I’m not going there… just keep in mind that there are limits on these things…) Also, some larger toy haulers sport a half bath in the garage area in addition to the regular full bath in the living quarters.
There are so many different toy haulers out there – we have only really looked at the 39 to 40+ footers, but there is everything from a 20′ bumper pull to 44 foot 5ers (and there are even Class C toy haulers!). My experience is only with our 40′er, so any info I give is based on that. Our toy hauler has a separate garage that is the rear 12 feet of the 5th wheel. It it separated from the ‘living quarters’ by a wall with a door in it, and the garage portion was designed and built more as a ’garage’ than a living area: black diamond plating on the floor and trim, walls built so that you can hose down the room (haven’t gone there yet…), tie downs built into the floor, and the entire back exterior wall is a ramp designed just for loading and unloading your two and four wheel toys. Often times the larger toy haulers will have 1 or 2 drop down queen beds on hydraulic lifts located in the garage; these can be lifted to the ceiling while you are hauling your toys, and then lowered for sleeping once the toys are unloaded at your site.
When we first bought our toy hauler, we did use the drop down queens, and that first winter we used the ‘garage’ for both a boy’s room and to haul our bikes (pedal ;)) in (and we have also used it to haul our 9 kayaks). Once we were back home, we modded the toy hauler to better fit our family – we took out the queens and put in custom built bunkbeds – then each of the boys had their own space (and this is how our garage turned out). Because the entire ‘garage’ comes from the factory bare, without furniture or carpeting, it suits for modifying to fit your lifestyle.
Another unusual feature about toy haulers is that many of the 5th wheel designs (and a growing number of pull behinds) have a loft. And it’s just that; an area hugging the ceiling that is used for sleeping. The lofts vary anywhere from a twin size bed 2 feet below the ceiling to a queen-plus sized area with comfortable headroom thanks to an oversized skylight. Loft are accessed by a ladder, or occasionally by built-in steps. Our 2 older girls shared our queen sized loft which was outfitted with it’s own a/c ducts, satellite hookups (we took the tv out…), a vent, speakers, built in cupboards, and a window.
Another sweet bene to having a toy hauler is the optional generator and fuel station. Yep, your own personal fuel station!!! Our t.h. is outfitted with a 5kw Onan generator that we can fire up with the push of a button from inside the rv, and, it’s fed by 2 - 24 gal. fuel tanks! Actually, one is for the generator, and the other was designed to be for hauling extra fuel for your ‘toys’. Since we don’t haul toys, when the gene tank is empty, we simply turn on the fuel pump (from inside – a nice deterent to others helping themselves to your fuel) and pump the gas from the toy tank into the gene tank. We found this incredibly convenient when we were stranded on Padre Island for 4 days last winter due to an ice storm (our choice to stay); the weather was below freezing and we ran our generator nearly fulltime (and realized later we needed new batteries). A 5 gal. can of gas would not have cut it.
Our favorite part of our toy hauler though, was it’s many windows and large capacity seating in the living area.
Our family enjoys hanging out together, so the main living area was the most important area of the rv when making our purchase, tho we obviously had to keep in mind that those 11 kids had to sleep somewhere! Many toy haulers have large, open living areas in addition to the large, open garage.
Those readers following our frame failure (which is why I will NOT promote our Gulf Stream toy hauler with it’s Lippert frame in this, or any, post) may be wondering why I’m writing such a positive report of our toy hauler (or sharing about them at all) – but it’s not really about OUR toy hauler – just t.h.s in general – I think that they are such a great cross-over rig - offering both living area and hauling capacity. And for those of you who also travel with 10 to 12 kids (our bigs don’t always come), it’s great to have a whole room to mod to sleep your brood