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Old 11-07-2019, 06:58 PM   #1
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Is the Escape 19' tough enough?

We are thinking seriously about buying the 19’ Escape. We live in Alaska and plan to “sun-bird” in the four-corners region for the dark months of the year. Up here, we use Lance slide-in on our Tundra. This is for shorter trips, since we already live up here.

To make our plans in the SW happen, we need to acquire both a tow vehicle and a trailer. Buying here in AK is a no-go as prices are quite high, and inventory is limited. Plus, we would have to pay thousands to barge our tow rig and trailer to the “Lower 48”. Our least expensive option is to buy both state-side, sight unseen. Hence our consideration of a new Escape.

From asking around, reading forums and surveying the limited TT selection locally, it seems that most manufacturers of smaller trailers have some sort of off-road package, whih often includes a lift, maybe coilovers, bigger tires and sometimes skid plate(s).

We called Escape this morning and I asked about off-road packages. I was told that there was an axle lift (2.5”) available. But that was it. Our friendly Escape phone representative said something like “well, you can’t take it out 4-wheeling or anything like that”. Well, that is what I had in mind- within the limits of the trailer/tow of course. The last thing I need is to to get a trailer far back in some place where I can’t turn around, or where I get high-centered and tear the bottom of the trailer out, or even get stuck badly. I do want to get off pavement for several days at a time.

So, my question is this: Is the Escape 19’ just not the trailer for me, or can I have it modified by a third party in WA to get closer to what I want for a reasonable price. Is the suspension for the 19’ up to a little bouncing? Once again, I am not looking for bulletproof, but just something a little more in that direction.
Oh, yeah, I will be several thousand miles from my tools and hence can’t “do for my self”.

My theory is to solve problems, before they ever get to be problems. Your wisdom is appreciated.. Thanx.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:12 PM   #2
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Welcome Pete, to our Escape world. Having owned 2 Lance trailers as well as 4 Escapes I can give you some insight. what makes your set up off road is your truck, not necessarily the Lance camper it carries, Your truck can certainly tow an Escape, maybe even with the truck camper? The Escape is build for longevity and comfort. Several owners have taken it off paved roads with success but it has torsion suspension and holding tanks underneath. If you get the foam spray option it will encase those tanks for weather protection. But trails with ruts or high spots maybe an issue. If towing both, you can unhitch and continue on, but you will find staying in an Escape is quiet, comfortable and with solar, self contained. Off road somewhat, but no where near those Aussie brothers that make their own trails. BTW, I sold both my Lance units due to leaks and slide issues, these issues will not happen with an Escape and I feel an Escape is much bettre built than a Lance product and will last a lot longer.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:31 PM   #3
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Here’s a thread that may help -

Escape Durability and Off-Road Capability

Based on the kind of roads you’re describing, I’d be looking at the Escape 17 for the lower weight and better maneuverability. I mostly like the tandem axles on our 19, but not when I’m making really tight turns.
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:18 PM   #4
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I know that some of the early Escape single axle fifth wheel 5.0 trailers had leaf springs. If I do decide to order a new Escape 17or 19 I would prefer leaf springs, and would inquire when I was ready to place my order to see if they would put leaf springs on a new build. I'm old school, and feel leaf springs offer a better option for me personally.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack L View Post
I know that some of the early Escape single axle fifth wheel 5.0 trailers had leaf springs.
I don't think so; I've only seen Torflex on the 5.0, both in person and in discussions in this forum and in FiberglassRV. The first two years or so of 5.0TA (tandem axle fifth-wheel) did have leaf spring suspension to make height adjustment easy (by moving the axle beam to above or below the springs, to fit varying trucks). The suspension then changed to Torflex in 2016 (when Escape switched to Dexter Axle's spacer kits to change height).

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Originally Posted by Jack L View Post
If I do decide to order a new Escape 17or 19 I would prefer leaf springs, and would inquire when I was ready to place my order to see if they would put leaf springs on a new build. I'm old school, and feel leaf springs offer a better option for me personally.
Only Escape Trailer Industries can say what they would do, but my guess is that the frame bracket change would be too much for them to consider as a customization for an owner, mostly because the frames are all identical and built in batches (perhaps still by an external supplier). If so, then if you really wanted beam axles on leaf springs you would have to do the conversion yourself.

As a leaf-spring trailer owner and technically oriented auto enthusiast there's no chance that I would want this, but it could be very easily done by unbolting the stock Torflex, cutting off the mounting brackets, and welding on spring hangers. The only issue that I can think of offhand is that the rearmost spring hanger might end up behind the step up in the frame, but that's easily checked. The brand new Torflex (or two, in a 19') would be surplus, but you could buy just Dexter D35 (or compatible) axle beam(s) (without hubs and brakes), and move the brakes and hubs from the stock Torflex over.

I don't see any point in the leaf-spring conversion, particularly on the single-axle 17', but of course that is a personal preference. With common trailer suspension parts the travel won't be any greater, and control will be worse. On the other hand, the leaf-spring suspension could be easily improved (but only in damping) by adding shock absorbers.

The big fans of off-road camping trailer use seem to be the Australians. There, long-travel independent suspensions with coil springs have become popular; an example which is now available here is the Black Series.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:42 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by wxguy View Post
From asking around, reading forums and surveying the limited TT selection locally, it seems that most manufacturers of smaller trailers have some sort of off-road package, whih often includes a lift, maybe coilovers, bigger tires and sometimes skid plate(s).

We called Escape this morning and I asked about off-road packages. I was told that there was an axle lift (2.5”) available. But that was it. Our friendly Escape phone representative said something like “well, you can’t take it out 4-wheeling or anything like that”. Well, that is what I had in mind- within the limits of the trailer/tow of course. The last thing I need is to to get a trailer far back in some place where I can’t turn around, or where I get high-centered and tear the bottom of the trailer out, or even get stuck badly.
The lift is a set of 2-5/8" spacers between the suspension brackets and the trailer frame.
There is no choice of springing, which is determined by the amount of rubber in the Torflex suspension; there are no separate shock absorbers, and none available. Shocks can be added to Torflex suspension, but only with custom fabrication.
Slightly bigger tires can be fitted, and buyers can bring their own wheels and tires to Escape if desired.
There is definitely no skid plate option, and I've never heard of anyone adding them as a customization by the factory or a later modification by the owner. It could be done, but some equipment hangs below the frame rails so it's not as easy as just running skid plates across the bottom of the frame rails with some angle brackets.

The other protective feature on some trailers is a set of "nerf bars" to protect the lower edges from rock strikes, etc. The frame is accessible, if you wanted to add these as modifications after purchase.

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Originally Posted by wxguy View Post
Is the suspension for the 19’ up to a little bouncing? Once again, I am not looking for bulletproof, but just something a little more in that direction.
I suspect that the suspension is up to a little bouncing. The 19' might be better than the 17' because the load is divided between two axles which have much higher total capacity than required (and the same capacity axles as on the heavier models), but on the other hand the tandem setup means that on rough ground one axle at a time takes much more than its normal share of the load, especially with Torflex suspensions which are not inter-linked.

I think the bigger concern than the suspension itself is the contents of the trailer, which gets a pretty rough ride with the short-travel suspension intended only for road use.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:00 AM   #7
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Hello and welcome wxguy …. cant help but ask …. so where is "Fishhook, Alaska"?

I wouldn't take my 17A rock crawlin' but would take it off the pavement …. depending on what that means. Have made a few of my own roads towing in Baja.

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Old 11-08-2019, 02:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack L View Post
I know that some of the early Escape single axle fifth wheel 5.0 trailers had leaf springs. If I do decide to order a new Escape 17or 19 I would prefer leaf springs, and would inquire when I was ready to place my order to see if they would put leaf springs on a new build. I'm old school, and feel leaf springs offer a better option for me personally.
My buddy had a 13' Trillium Fibreglass trailer. Originally it came with a torsion axle. A previous owner scabbed leaf springs onto it. We followed it on the highway and it bounced all over, a horrible experience for my friend. Later he sold it and lost interest in trailering. He often questioned how we could tow such long distances and be comfortable with it. I'm sure the leaf pack could have been better sized for the trailer, but they weren't large either.

I like the way the torflex axles handle the road and wouldn't consider anything except an swing arm and airbag setup.
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Old 11-08-2019, 07:42 AM   #9
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If I recall, Escape has an off-road pull behind on their model floor in Chilliwack, made by one of their brother/sister corporations. Basically a bed on wheels but capable of handling off roads...
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:45 PM   #10
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Speaking of Escape durability, here is a picture of a campsite we had in the middle of the Anza Borrego Desert with our stock 19, probably at least 10 miles off road via sand; no high-lift features nor special suspension.



We have since had many more camping adventures off road but keep it slow when traveling and don't try to rock-climb.

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Old 11-09-2019, 02:27 PM   #11
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I can't speak to any modifications you might want to consider, but I am able to report that we camped all summer in our 19 in the western US but not once at an RV park, developed campground, or any other paved location. We were always at undeveloped sites with rough dirt roads and often very uneven terrain leading to it. For the most part, we don't want to be camped anywhere near anyone else, and these days you usually have to take your RV or tent well off the beaten path to find that sort of experience. We do not have the lift on our 19. We've had 0 problems with the trailer towing it to these types of sites. The only problem we've had is one time the wardrobe cabinet opened and stuff fell out when we towed over a particularly rough road, but we solved that problem with a bungee. Our truck is 4X4 and we carry chains in case it rains so as to avoid getting stuck in the mud, although this has never happened. When approaching a site where we might want to camp, one of us always gets out and assesses the situation, i.e. is there a level spot, can we turn around, etc. before committing. And we do drive very slowly if the road is rough or uneven. This system has worked for us, so far no issues with the trailer, suspension, or tires. And of course one advantage of the trailer over a pickup camper is the flexibility to set camp and then take the tow vehicle to other places. I guess unless you want the flexibility to camp in some really rough spots, I think the stock Escape 19 would work fine for you, and you could always add the lift to your list of options if there is any doubt. What we love most about our 19 is it's been perfect for boondocking off the beaten path, with solar panel for power and plenty of capacity for water, if you're careful about how you use it. By the way, I bought our 19 sight unseen and have not had even 1 second of buyer's remorse. The more we use it, the more I love it!
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:30 PM   #12
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Hi wxguy, I'd encourage you to look at this post and thread. The post I am referring to is #27 - thread is - "rock protection - storage box vs mud flaps vs"
rock protection - storage box vs mud flaps vs ...
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Old 11-09-2019, 06:56 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by salmo7000 View Post
I can't speak to any modifications you might want to consider, but I am able to report that we camped all summer in our 19 in the western US but not once at an RV park, developed campground, or any other paved location. We were always at undeveloped sites with rough dirt roads and often very uneven terrain leading to it. For the most part, we don't want to be camped anywhere near anyone else, and these days you usually have to take your RV or tent well off the beaten path to find that sort of experience. We do not have the lift on our 19. We've had 0 problems with the trailer towing it to these types of sites. The only problem we've had is one time the wardrobe cabinet opened and stuff fell out when we towed over a particularly rough road, but we solved that problem with a bungee. Our truck is 4X4 and we carry chains in case it rains so as to avoid getting stuck in the mud, although this has never happened. When approaching a site where we might want to camp, one of us always gets out and assesses the situation, i.e. is there a level spot, can we turn around, etc. before committing. And we do drive very slowly if the road is rough or uneven. This system has worked for us, so far no issues with the trailer, suspension, or tires. And of course one advantage of the trailer over a pickup camper is the flexibility to set camp and then take the tow vehicle to other places. I guess unless you want the flexibility to camp in some really rough spots, I think the stock Escape 19 would work fine for you, and you could always add the lift to your list of options if there is any doubt. What we love most about our 19 is it's been perfect for boondocking off the beaten path, with solar panel for power and plenty of capacity for water, if you're careful about how you use it. By the way, I bought our 19 sight unseen and have not had even 1 second of buyer's remorse. The more we use it, the more I love it!
Might I suggest breaking posts like this into paragraphs. I tried, but I just can't make it through a big block of words like this.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:54 PM   #14
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OK, sorry
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Old 11-10-2019, 04:00 AM   #15
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I agree with Jim …. reading such a huge paragraph is too much work and not enough space to think. I skip those lunkers!

Tom
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Old 11-10-2019, 09:09 AM   #16
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There are dirt roads and there are "trail roads." A few of my all time ET-19 favorites:
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Old 11-10-2019, 10:14 AM   #17
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Myron, which picture was where you got your foot stuck in a cattle guard? The first?
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Old 11-10-2019, 10:17 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salmo7000 View Post
OK, sorry
I’ve enjoyed reading your posts since you started looking at Escapes. Probably because I spent time on the Selway our in your country, and have been there twice on my way back from the Escape Rally in 2017 and again last spring. I’m not much of a true boondocker whatever that is, I’ve been totally alone in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness camping out of a tent and eating fish cooked over a fire. That was then and this is a 50 years later now.
Hope you continue to have great adventures and I know you have perfected your towing skills on that little challenge over by Grangeville called White Bird Hill.
Iowa Dave
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Old 11-10-2019, 12:00 PM   #19
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Myron, which picture was where you got your foot stuck in a cattle guard? The first?
I think it was, yup, that was the first thing that I thought of when I saw the photo.

Who knows how "tough" an Escape is, I never go off road in mine. Except maybe in Baja where the well used sand at the side of the road is smoother than the main road.

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Old 11-10-2019, 01:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowa Dave View Post
I’ve enjoyed reading your posts since you started looking at Escapes. Probably because I spent time on the Selway our in your country, and have been there twice on my way back from the Escape Rally in 2017 and again last spring. I’m not much of a true boondocker whatever that is, I’ve been totally alone in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness camping out of a tent and eating fish cooked over a fire. That was then and this is a 50 years later now.
Hope you continue to have great adventures and I know you have perfected your towing skills on that little challenge over by Grangeville called White Bird Hill.
Iowa Dave
Thank you Dave, I so love the Selway-Bitterroot and have had many experiences such as you describe! Hope we cross paths one day.
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