2017 Top Toy Haulers

Toy Haulers (SURVs) represent the concept of “home-with-garage-away-from home”, offering living quarters and dedicated cargo space for “toys”; see top models for 2017

      Toy Haulers are relatively new addition to the offer of well over 100-years old RV industry.

They are example of natural evolution from the concept of tandem of towing vehicle and “cargo trailer” or “travel trailer” to the combination of both in “all-in-one” package. In practice it means that under one roof and on the same set of wheels you will find the cargo room (garage) together with all vital residential sections correspondingly: bedroom, bath, kitchen and living area.  In this sense Toy Haulers represent an upgraded version of “home-away-from-home” where “home” comes together with an “attached-to-it” garage. 

Short history:

       It seems that first models of toy haulers emerged on the market in early 70’s. The Sky Hawk Industries (Marcellus, MI) came-out with the model ShyHawk and the Alfa Leisure (Chino, CA) correspondingly with Toyhouse (the latter was the first toy-hauler made in larger quantities). While some early models of toy haulers probably survived the impact of time, both companies did not have that luck.  The truth is that at those times the market was still not ripe for this class of camper. Toy haulers were considered as a “curiosity” rather than the new means of RV-ing enabling wider spectrum of outdoor activities. 

ToyHouse by Alfa Leisure: This combination (of) travel trailer and cargo trailer has has a bath and galley built into the front, it is the answer to enclosed storage for your toys...

Courtesy of: American Motorcyclist (January 1987)

And 30 years later - looks like two different worlds, although it's still all about "toys"....

Grand Design - Momentum Toy Hauler

     Interestingly, it took almost 30 years before the concept of Toy Haulers took off. Today, higher-end models of toy haulers are generously equipped with household amenities and offer spacious garages capable of hauling ATV’s, go-karts, motorcycles, snowmobiles and even small cars (on top of loads of all kind of camping “gear”). No wonder, these days toy haulers make the fastest growing segment of RV industry.

Technically the popular name Toy Hauler is rather a nick-name given to the class of Sport Utility Recreational Vehicles (SURV). 

       The fact is that the RV-world tremendously changed over the last decennia. Obviously there are zillions of owners of ATVs, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, lovers of water-sports (kayaks, canoes, water scooters etc…) that would like to extend their escapades into wilderness (tandem of car + cargo trailer scenario) well beyond “One-day event” .  But it’s not all – there is also a new generation of wealthier RV-ers having other ideas about how to use the extra cargo space (garage). In fact, all these cargo rooms (and often coming with them extra patios) are designed for dual use – as a garage when on the road, and as a significant extension of living/sleeping/entertainment space when on the campground.

     Design Challenges (here shown in an arbitrary order because some of them have strong individual aspect):

Sturdy construction

      It seems obvious (although it can be easily underestimated) – Toy Haulers are designed mostly for Nature Lovers. After all, you will not enjoy your ATV or mountain bike rides in the labyrinth of streets. As the result - selected Toy Hauler model must be designed for off-road driving conditions to bring you close to the nature.  And it’s more than just off-road axles and tires package. It’s also higher ground clearance (OK, it may come with larger off-road wheels), stone-guard protection (including some sort of enclosed underbelly), and overall sturdiness. In other words good quality materials and craftsmanship for chassis, body, cabinetry, pipes, wiring etc…. 

Looks like "futuristic" design, but it's real - in front of you Grand Design Momentum Toy Hauler

   .... and its' floor-plan (Model 304M)

Long periods of Self-sufficiency

        Vacations “closer to nature” may imply longer periods of stay in “out of civilization” conditions. As a result, the selected toy hauler should have large water, LPG and fuel tanks. Keep in mind that the fuel tank must feed not only your toys but also the generator. While auxiliary batteries play an important role and can be re-charged (at least to some extent) by solar panels, the truth is that large rigs stuffed with plethora of appliances are power hungry. And if by chance you will need to run in “out-of-grid” conditions A/C unit(s), then the generator is the only option. While the solar panels can provide energy for lights (assuming modern LEDs) and some appliances, for A/Cs you will need the “solar farm”. Note that the 3-way refrigerator will be beneficial in out-of-grid environment.

Large garage space and cargo capacity

      It is assumed that the toy hauler provides all necessary home amenities.  But the cargo room (garage) also must meet some criteria of usefulness. The obvious one is the size: length and width (the height will usually exceed the needs). Make sure that your favorite toys will easily fit inside and that they can be secured for travel (tie-downs etc ….)! As the matter of fact, to address cargo challenges (for example hauling a racing car), most larger toy haulers have wider bodies (width of 102” versus standard 96”).

But the tricky thing is the cargo capacity. The whole space may become useless if the weight of your toys exceeds trailer’s cargo capacity. Please note that the cargo capacity must accommodate the weight of full water tanks, fuel tank, LPG and everything “outside” of standard features (camping gear, food and kitchen stuff, cloths, linen …. And here the list may be really long. The pounds are adding-up quickly eating at the same time your margin for “toys”.

The good way to look at it (kind of “figure of merit”) is the ratio of Cargo Capacity to GVWR of a given toy hauler. It allows you to compare various models of toy haulers.

Note:  Keep in mind that your truck must be able to tow the fully loaded toy hauler, but that is another story.

Prolonged (all All)-seasons

      The higher-end toy haulers are quite expensive so they better serve you over extended (if not over 4) seasons (BTW – snowmobiles offer as good adventure experience as ATVs…). This implies camper’s good thermal insulation (high R-values for body, dual-pane windows….), protection of water tanks and valves from freezing and enough of LP capacity for furnace and water heater. 

Something more "down-to-earth" - in this case Fury Toy Hauler model 2910 and its layout (below)

Multipurpose garage

      It may not be that important for those who buy the toy hauler specifically for carrying their “outdoor gear”. But in case you also want the extra space, be sure the cargo room is designed as the multipurpose one. And that means – walls and floor are protected against “abuse”. You will expect walls and floor protected by Diamond-Plate (or more “user-friendly” oil and fuel resistant rubber). Also, like in the real garage you may need the power washer, air compressor and even small workbench with sets of tools….

      On the other hand you would like to see power-sofas/bed(s) that can be easily set-up when needed and then folded against the sidewalls or elevated up to the ceiling when the time comes. To fully enjoy the room you will need large, panoramic windows (with privacy shades for the night) and eventually an option of patio extension. 

The “connection” with the central section of the toy hauler (living & kitchen) will be also crucial. For practical reasons you would like to see large sliding glass doors allowing for seamless integration of both sections of the camper.

The loft (attic) with an easy access, extras like washer/drier prep, screens may also be of importance. 

Note: The rear door is used as a loading/unloading ramp, but once toys are out the room changes its function. Most likely during the day you would like to keep it open (fresh air, contact with nature…), but for security reasons you will have to close it for the night. That is why door’s opening/closing process must be effortless (some sort of “power-assistance” or clever mechanical design). 

Ability to handle larger crowd

      While small-size toy haulers are practically designed for “two with toys”, the large ones usually can handle and sleep 6 to 10 persons. In such situation just one bath is not enough. In most cases the problem is recognized by manufacturers so bigger rigs have two bathrooms. This gives the chance to keep the front’s bathroom as “mostly private” (part of the Master Bedroom), while the second one (usually next to the garage) may well serve remaining crowd. 

You will also find out that many toy haulers do not have dedicated “Dinette Booth”. But do not worry, for that purpose you can use any folding table. Keep in mind that once the toys are unloaded, the cargo room takes the form of Living/Dining and Entertainment area. Large folding sofas along the walls need just one or two tables to set-up comfortable conditions for consumptions of meals (but not only….). 

      Large crowd requires a lot of “living” space (whatever it means). If you anticipate traveling in company of friends or family members it may be crucial that your Toy Hauler is equipped with two power awnings and has LP quick connect to set-up an external grill (obviously an external kitchen will be very beneficial). If you are already in the hands of Mother Nature, try to fully enjoy such opportunity, it does not happen on a daily basis….

Welcome to the world of luxurious RVs: Outlaw Motor-home 37RB Toy Hauler

Living Quarters

     While the sections above are addressing questions specifically related to Toy Haulers, the living comfort follows the same rules as in any other type of RV. And the truth is that almost all larger toy haulers offer familiar residential-like living environment. Multiple slide-outs, king or queen-size beds, spacious wardrobes and dressers, walk-in bathrooms with radius showers, stainless-steel appliances, wooden cabinetry, solid-surface countertops, leather sofas and chairs, entertainment systems and even fireplace – you will find them all in modern-days SURVs.

Well, it's the sign of time. Most of us gave up on "Spartan" live getting addicted to "luxury".....

Livin' Lite offeres medium-size QuickSilver toy hauler (box length of just 15'6")

   ... and its floor-plan. Given very modest layout and features this one is for those clearly nature-oriented) 

Toy Hauler: Fifth Wheel or Trailer

....  In other words which one is “better” (whatever it means: safer, easier …) to tow? Although this question is valid for any towed trailer, it has more significance in case of toy haulers as they are usually longer.

And the answer is: Towing a fifth wheel trailer is safer and easier for the following reasons:

  • The total length of the tandem including the truck and fifth wheel is smaller than that of the truck and comparable travel trailer. And that means – it is easier to tow, make turns and maneuver.
  • Since the FW’s hitch (and associated load) is applied directly over the truck’s rear axle instead of at the back of the chassis (like in the case of travel trailer), the ride is more secure. The traditional “bumper-pulled” travel trailer (especially packed with cargo in the real garage) can significantly change the load distribution what in turn may decrease stability, lead to trailer swaying and loss of control.

The downsides – there are always some. In this case it’s the hitch that takes the space in the truck’s bed even when the FW is unhitched.

Of course in many cases the choice between the FW and TT is made based on the towing car you already own. 

Regarding motor-coach toy haulers – these are really different “animals”, so just to let you know, there are companies making them.

OK, so let's start presentation of best Toy Haulers for 2017. (please note that this is a work in progress)

Keystone Fusion 325

       The model 325 is the lightest and smallest from the series of Fusion Fifth Wheels (FW). Of course it’s all relative – the absolute numbers with Dry Weight of 12,806 pounds and Length of 38’3” by all accounts make the Fusion 325 an impressive rig. It will still require a powerful, Heavy Duty truck to safely hit the road, but the good news is that it will allow you to carry more toys than you may find in your garage…..

Like most toy-haulers the Fusion 325 offers the flor-plan with front Master Bedroom and bathroom, central kitchen integrated with living area and a rear garage. It has two slide-out extensions (bedroom’s wardrobe and living room lunge (reclining-sofa) as well as 2 side entrance doors (and rear ramp door). As mentioned earlier, the Fusion 325 is a higher-end RV with elegant furniture, appliances and look......

See details at: --> Fusion 325 Toy Hauler FW

Thor Outlaw 37RB A-class Motorhome

Thor Outlaw A-class Motorhome toy hauler - model 37RB and its floor-plan.

      From the outside the Outlaw 37RB looks like the traditional bus-like A-class motorhome. What makes the difference is the interior floor-plan. Compared to traditional motorhomes the residential-like living area is only slightly reduced (thanks to slide-outs and loft). At the same time a spacious garage and patio are added opening new possibilities once the toys are out. For example the garage can serve as an extra sleeping space, mobile office, dog kennel or together with the rear patio as the large lounge or place for party…. 

See details at: --> Outlaw 37RB Toy Hauler

Livin'Lite QuickSilver 7x20HJ

Livin'Lite QuickSilver 720HJ Toy Hauler

      LivinLite offers several models of Quicksilver toy haulers from the smallest one 7 feet wide 7x18FK (it’s a newest model with box length < 19ft) to the largest one 8.5 feet wide -  8.5x30FBR (box length of 30’3”).

Here we will make the presentation of the narrow body model - Quicksilver 7x20HJ (in many design aspect very similar to the standard model 7x20).

As mentioned earlier there are many benefits of all-aluminum technology. One of them is their lite weight and what comes with it – the affordability. And this is not only due to reasonable initial ticket price but also because some smaller models are within the towing range of popular trucks and even SUVs.....

See details at: --> QS 720HJ Toy Hauler

work in progress!

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