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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2009 with the 4.0. Pretty much stock. We all know these are rated at 5,000 pounds towing capacity. But what about if you like to take Forest Service roads to the high country? Is there a limit here on what you should try to haul up (sometimes) steep Forest Service roads? I am currently looking at a 19-foot Terry travel trailer with a GVW of 3100 pounds. Too much?



 

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I do not have an answer, but some points to add to the conversation. Towing a flatbed with 5,000 pounds of bricks on pallets is entirely diifferent from towing a 5000 pound travel trailer. The TT gets blown around as trucks pass you and from high winds. The Xterra has a lot of engine, but holy cow is the wheelbase short which makes it easy to be thrown around by a TT. Your GVW is pretty good on that trailer, and its length isn't too bad. I would try to not go over 21 feet and a lot of people say that is too long for Xterra. Anti sway hitch is a huge help. Xterra rear springs are weak so weight distribution hitch is usually needed. Airbags help too.

Finally, if you are bypassed on your radiator, get that fixed before you try to tow at lower speeds up forest roads with steeper incline. You will absolutely overheat your transmission due to lack of airflow over the transmission cooler. You can search here for a guy who tested this with thermocouplers.

Again, I know I didn't answer your question, but hopefully there are a few nuggets in my post that will help you. Best of luck.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your answer was helpful. My radiator was replaced to avoid SMOD and the new one isn't bypassed so the tranny does get cooling. I guess what I'm really asking is if anyone has a similar trailer that they have towed up Forest Service roads to go camping in. I mean...does that 4.0 liter engine have enough power to do that with a 3100-3600 pound load behind it. Mostly I would be going real slow and often in 4WD on these roads, some of which get a little (not ridiculously) steep. If anyone has done this, then I sure would like to hear about it. Most of these trips would be done less than a hundred miles from our home in Yakima, WA. And the dirt road driving would be going at 15-20 MPH or so. Can the X handle a load like that and get you to cool camping spots in the high country in the National Forests. Think hunting trips even though that's not what I would be doing. Can the X physically do this with a trailer about a thousand pounds less than factory listed capacity?
 

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I know this isn't exactly what you're asking, but my biggest concern towing something that heavy on steep, dirt roads would be braking coming back down.

With proportional braking, it may be difficult to brake the trailer enough to reach a point where it doesn't feel like the trailer wants to push you down the hill. Which becomes a lot easier for it to do when you're on loose dirt and gravel.

I would definitely recommend a brake controller that also allows for a user/direct control type of function.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First, I want to thank everyone who responded. You were ALL a big help to us. And as it happens, the wife and I have found another trailer, a Jayco lite at 17' 4" with the queen bed in the back, which is exactly what we are looking for. And this Jayco only weighs about 2200 pounds. So we are going to try for that one today instead of the heavier trailer we were looking at that was 19 feet long. I think we will be all right with that one. We meet them later today after the owner gets off work. In case you are wondering why we need this thing, (besides going on vacations) the reason is HERE. We sponsored this same event last year, but last year....we slept for four days on the ground. LOL we decided enough of that.

Again, thanks to everyone who responded. You all helped us very much.
 

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First, I want to thank everyone who responded. You were ALL a big help to us. And as it happens, the wife and I have found another trailer, a Jayco lite at 17' 4" with the queen bed in the back, which is exactly what we are looking for. And this Jayco only weighs about 2200 pounds. So we are going to try for that one today instead of the heavier trailer we were looking at that was 19 feet long. I think we will be all right with that one. We meet them later today after the owner gets off work. In case you are wondering why we need this thing, (besides going on vacations) the reason is HERE. We sponsored this same event last year, but last year....we slept for four days on the ground. LOL we decided enough of that.

Again, thanks to everyone who responded. You all helped us very much.
2200 pounds and 2' shorter sound alot better to me. Definitely get a good hitch set up that has both an adjustable sway bar and weight distribution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We went ahead and bought the Jayco. Really nice interior and the space is used so well. Cut at least a thousand pounds from the load. I don't anticipate any problems towing this one into the high country. One queen bed, two clothes closets with hangar bars, full bath and kitchen. Not bad for a 17'4" trailer. I will post up pictures in the next couple of days after we bring it home and do some touch ups on it. Weight unloaded, with hitch, just under 2,000 pounds. I did pick up a bolt-on weight distributor for the hitch from Amazon. Dual axle, should work fine for us. This Eagle series trailer even comes with two larger propane tanks and a dual battery system. I will add a solar panel and an MPPT solar controller we have laying around here. There is a crank up antenna for the TV on top, but I may go to satellite TV through Dish TV later. Dish offers pay-as-you-go for RV's. Only pay for what you use, which is pretty cool when your satellite TV sits around unused for a while. LOL this summer is going to be fun I think.
 

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Nice. One of the biggest factors that determines tow ratings isn't just power and torque it's braking. The shorter the wheel base the more squirrely and dangerous things get. Take a 2 door wrangler for example, that 3.6 pentastar has plenty of power to tow smaller trailers and campers but the short wheel base kills the towing capacity. I think the 2 doors are only rating at like 2000 lbs or something. My brother had a 4 door JK and towing our 950 lbs pop up trailer was nerve wracking. Every time you would brake you could feel that trailer, and it was a very light trailer. Towing it behind the Xterra I couldn't even tell it was there.
 

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I tow a ~2800 (wet) 20' Ski boat with no issues. No power issues, no braking issues and no wind issues. Handles fine, brakes fine and rides fine on and off the highway. Only "mod" is helper springs. I use an OEM receiver and no trailer brakes (boat trailer doesn't have them). I do have a lot of experience towing though, I have towed equipment for 20 years in "real" trucks and I find the Xterra handles less than 3500# loads fine.
 

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You should be fine with a 2200lbs trailer. Here's mine at 19' 2600lbs dry without a weight distribution hitch at the time of picture.
Drove it from Montreal to Cape Cod crossing the white mountains. I do have an additional leaf to keep sagging minimal and later adding a weight distribution hitch reduced sagg by an inch.
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You should be totally fine. I've pulled my 5k pound trailer over all sorts of terrain. Just adjust your speed for the conditions. Highway should be completely fine as well even with steep grades. I've never towed in extreme heat, but again just adjust your speeds for the conditions. Hitting your bump stops every so often is normal, but just try to take it easy.

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I've driven flat forest service roads, and I've come across those which dip into low creeks and hills.
Among the other tips shared, keep ground clearance as a consideration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update: Things have been going well. All systems on the trailer are working fine except the water heater but I have that one just about done. My wife is a retired professional horse girl and has towed horses from here to Saturn. Her advice was really good. The trailer with hitch weighs 3100 pounds we found out and the X does that with ease. New radiator (NOT bypassed) means tranny cooling and no SMOD. We installed the electric brake control and the adapter for the lights, and wired in power to trailer using a fuse tap to a circuit that is only hot when the ignition is in ON position. There are two deep cycle batteries for trailer power, and a separate one for the brake controls. Everything seems to check out fine and we will take a shakedown cruise in a few days to a Forest Service area west of Yakima, but not TOO high up. You can see the city from there. I think we will be fine. Resealed the roof, deep cleaned the body of the trailer and waxed it, switched all trailer lights to LED just like the Xterra is.

You guys have been more help to us than you know. My sincere thanks to all of you.
 
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