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Old 09-01-2017, 02:09 PM   #1
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FIRST 2016 CLASSIC 21ft AND RAM 1500 TRIP

Following up on initial report 6 November 2016 Thread title "2016 RAM 1500 3.6L towing 21ft - my experience"
This account details towing new EMPTY trailer WITHOUT WDH (weight distribution hitch) from Chilliwack to Anaheim CA. This follow up will detail actual use.

Hopefully, our first time out trip experience will benefit those looking to become Escape owners, are in ordering process and struggling with options, as we were. Old hands may skip this thread as you already know what travelling in an Escape is all about.

I need to add that our previous fiberglass egg was a 13ft Scamp, 11 years enjoying that one for its compactness and high cozy factor. Prior were small stick built trailers, class A and C, van and truck camper over period of decades.

It seems there are as many different RVing styles as owners. Based on our observations over the years most common style is destination camping, with hookups or dry camping, you stay put then go home. That used to be us while working a job. Despite being small RV aficionados, we decided on buying the largest Escape model, a fiberglass efficiency apartment to park as home base, explore surrounding 100 mile radius for a week at a time then move on to next location.

We are in the process of re-evaluating this size decision which surprises us as we are careful planners and always do our homework. We are sure we will make the adjustment to a bigger trailer but did not expect to suffer "trailer length shock". Camping style can change from year to year and often dictated by what you have been doing in past years. We are wondering if a change took place and we did not notice till now that we are retired and do not need to rush home to be at the office Monday morning ? This is strange.

The tow from Chilliwack to Anaheim CA last November was a quick trip home in winter with empty trailer. Overall trip mileage (at 60 mph - always) and assortment of elevations averaged 15.8 mpg
Without WDH we experienced no sway, slight higher truck front end and uncomfortable truck bouncing on dips with steering lightness.

Due to many factors: winter, two long overseas trips, modifications to trailer as it was unusable when we bought it, out of state family swarming in last May and working construction on our retirement home - we just got the opportunity to take our first trip. It was a 3 week 4,300 mile trip all over Oregon, Northern California and Reno Nevada area followed by eastern Sierra Mountains. Primary purpose of trip was to see the Eclipse in Newport OR and yes it was magnificent, Mother Nature did not disappoint.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:10 PM   #2
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Towing experience

Unlike Chilliwack to Anaheim trip last November, trailer was fully loaded. Always full of water, propane and purposely carried more stuff than we normally would as this was a TEST TRIP. Despite this, only about half the trailer storage space was utilized. We could easily reduce that to less than a third but wanted to load it up to see what happens. We also loaded the truck bed with stuff we would normally not bring and sure enough did not need. Starting with 13 gallons spare fuel 3 containers (Eclipse fuel shortage warnings), tools and stuff we did not even touch. The truck has factory installed 32 gallon fuel tank and 300 pound fiberglass shell. This was to be worst case scenario. We did not weigh the truck and trailer.

I installed a Husky WDH (weight distribution hitch) and that was written up 21 July 2017 Thread title "Husky Center Line TS Weight Distribution hitch"

On this 4,300 mile trip with countless long hills, mountain overpasses, etc. fuel mileage varied from 13.9 to 17.8 . Entire trip end to end, overall fuel mileage was 17.4 mpg. Photographed trip details off the truck dash display upon arriving home. Kept detailed fuel usage numbers and will do a manual calculation. On this year and model truck the dash numbers can be as high as 1 mpg higher. Stay tuned. Our truck is a 2016 RAM 1500 3.6L V6 with 3.55 axle (18,500 miles) and always used Tow/Haul mode. 60 mph was always the interstate speed.

This time the WDH prevented the front end bounciness and light steering. You could feel a more solid hitch connection. I never used a WDH before as my trailers were smaller and lighter and appreciate what it does for the ride but I totally hate having to use it.

I would rate towing the Escape 21 as excellent. It's easy to tow and very stable. The trailer is more stable than all my previous smaller trailers including the Scamp 13. Trip from Chilliwack WITHOUT WDH showed no sway that I could detect. Now WITH the WDH it feels rock solid. Backing up is easier that the Scamp. It backs up where you expect it to go and unlike short single axle trailers, it's easier to go in a straight line while reversing.

The wired backup camera I installed is very useful when in reverse but I enjoyed seeing a wide band of traffic (3 lanes worth) behind us even though our RAM has factory towing mirrors. Our camera is hard wired for better performance and its 7 inch hi res screen can accept 3 cameras.

Hitching suddenly became more time consuming, compared to my previous small trailers. My truck's factory tailgate camera allows me to back the ball right under the trailer's hitch cup. Easy and no need to engage wife's help. Then there is the WDH, what a pain that is. I have a love/hate relationship with that component. After that all I need is to attach the 7 pin connector, the 2 pin Anderson 120 charge line connector ending with the backup camera pig tail connector. I also have a love/hate relationship with hitching and unhitching. Maybe I am getting old but I remember this hitch/unhitch process use to be simple, almost fun !

The trailer's built in jack stabilizers are excellent and do a great job keeping the trailer rock solid when parked. We rarely use them as most all our nights are one night freebies on the road. Unless we are so unleveled the coffee cups tip over, we do no site leveling. We wait till we get back to level ground to read the tank levels more accurately. The refrigerator does not care what the trailer level is. On this trip no leveling was done.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:11 PM   #3
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OUR 2016 CLASSIC 21ft

The Classic design is the original shape. It's a lot more rounded and accented with the "airplane" door. We purposely tried our best to not overload the exterior shell with stuff on the roof and sides as we wanted that long sleek look. Additionally if that sleekness translates to better aerodynamics, so much the better. Will never know but we have been getting good fuel mileage. Aside from that there are fewer places for wind, dust, bugs and thermal intrusion. Ours was the or next to the last Classic 21 built late 2016. It is factory wired (including the AC breaker) and roof reinforced to accept AC unit should that be needed. The passenger side is also internally reinforced to accept an awning should that ever be needed. We do not need these two but ..... We asked that the giant "Escape 21" sign be deleted. That big space is perfect for a custom mural. We purposely did not get solar as we do not dry camp more than a few days and if we did, would could top off with the generator. Normal use for us is to go everywhere and the truck tops the batteries within hours on the road. If you pay camp then solar is moot as you have 110vAC.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:13 PM   #4
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Options we ordered

Like many others, we struggled with options at order time. Hopefully this will help those preparing to order.
We have just one option regret, NOT ordering extension board/foam that widens the rear U shape dinette bench.

The OPTIONAL rear U shape dinette is wonderful, better than expected. Being in the back of the trailer creates a spacious relaxed viewing experience out the three large windows. We love sitting there looking out while engaged in something else. Previously with trailers using front dinette, we rarely opened the gravel shield as looking at back of tow vehicle did not cause excitement. We also like that the rear U shape benches are at the correct height in relationship to the windows. There was a trailer we sampled at Escape Industries back in 2015 that had the windows way too high to enjoy.

OPTIONAL full cabin insulation helped maintain steady temperature inside as well as the OPTIONAL full thermal glass panes. Definitively worth the expense.

Did not opt for the under floor foam spray as it's permanent, makes under trailer work difficult or impossible at places. Despite mountain low evening temperatures we did not experience floor discomfort as there is 3/4" plywood with fiberglass sheeting under that. Perhaps the fact we chose as an OPTION some very thick cushy flooring helps. It certainly is soft on your feet and at $600 (2015 prices) from Pioneer in Chilliwack it better be comfy. Anyway that is an OPTION we like.

We love our OPTIONAL faucet with cross style handles mounted on the one hole body. Easy to dial in water flow to conserve fresh water tank capacity.

Did not think I would use the OPTIONAL front storage box, thank you all for convincing me to get it. As a practical matter, the box is coated with rock guard coating. The box is the trailer's rock protection shield.

The OPTIONAL Horton tank level sensors are a must as the factory ones I understand don't do as well reporting levels. The Horton sensors are accurate.

The OPTIONAL 110vAC electric water heater element.

The OPTIONAL 12vdc drops throughout the upper wall cabinetry we have not tapped but because wiring later is a pain it's a good idea to spread these taps throughout as you don't know where you could use one.

The OPTIONAL driver side utility light switched inside along with the front passenger side "porch" light and overhead dome light. We like them.

The OPTIONAL reinforced wall between bed and bath has not been used but available for shelving, lamp or ..... I regret this option as I can't think of what we could attach to that well !

The OPTIONAL outside 110vAC marine style screw on electrical connector is a must. I added one to our Scamp. The standard side wall opening where you drag out a thick 30amp cord then push back in taking in wet dirt back under the dinette seating and taking up space is not great. The side wall opening does not form a good seal and is an entry point for wind, dust and bugs.

The OPTIONAL toilet foot valve is easy to use but no idea what the standard one is like.

The OPTIONAL aluminum wheels dress up the trailer, in our case adds to the long sleek look.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:13 PM   #5
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TRAVELLING WITH THE 2016 CLASSIC 21ft

Roomy and as comfortable as any small apartment with tons of storage. One could easily live in it full time. Many people do! The floor plan is perfect, the main aisle is wide and easily accommodates the two of us walking back and forth. Everything worked as expected. At high altitude, (dry camping 7-8000 feet) all propane equipment worked (furnace, hot water heater, stove). Fridge is marine type (6.8 cf) and that works regardless of altitude or site level. Furnace was used a lot and as easy to start as our home furnace. Same for water heater on propane, one click from within cabin to fire up. We did get to heat water with 110v AC while at the Eclipse campground and that required pushing a button on the water heater from outside one time only. Bed is comfortable, taking hot showers was great as the bath compartment roomy. Toilet was definitively a step up from our old cassette style potty, Kim loved it.

We dry camped 1 to 3 days at a time, we did not need to charge with our Honda generator (we do not have solar). Once we get back on the road, our truck's starting battery would charge the trailer's batteries to full before stopping for the night. The Trimetric battery monitoring meter is programmed to match our battery storage system and shows 100% charged every time we stop. This is the reason we do not need solar. The truck is the ticket to fully charging trailer battery unless you dry camp more than 3 days. The Trimetric tells you what percentage of battery capacity is left, how many amp-hours have been used, voltage, etc. This is important as long battery life dictates not drawing beyond 50%. Unless we dry camped for more than 3 days we never get close to 50%. Typical was 10% drawdown as the truck was our charging station when on the road. Having said that, if we ever decided to dry camp for more than 3 days then we would need to install solar or use the generator. The trailer is already equipped with an MPPT solar controller just not used right now.

The very best feature of the 21ft is the rear U shape dinette. We had no idea we would enjoy being there so much. Caught us by surprise. The large efficient bath room was also a godsend. The floor plan is very good. What we did not like was that the trailer is too big for us. We like smaller cozy RVs. The vast storage spaces were wasted on us. The roominess we liked a lot and when on the road for months as we plan, I can see why we bought such a large trailer.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:14 PM   #6
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THINGS WE LIKED ABOUT THE 21ft

The very best feature of the 21ft is the rear U shape dinette. We had no idea we would enjoy being there so much. Caught us by surprise. With the great view is our favorite hangout spot when inside the trailer. The three rear windows are large and at correct height in relation to the bench.

The large efficient bath room was also a godsend. The floor plan is very good.

Bath room is excellent. Toilet flush is powerful and could take a small dog with it if not careful. Showering is comfortable from a space point of view, quite ample. Drains well.

Inside it's very comfortable. Front bed is nice and prevents climbing over spouse. With just one window temperature easier to keep steady as well as infiltrating outside light while sleeping.

Aisle is very wide and really makes the interior living feel like a bigger trailer. The vast storage spaces were wasted on us. We could easily get by with less than a third of the standard storage. The roominess we liked a lot and when on the road for months as we plan, I can see why we bought such a large trailer.

No leveling needed unless it's on an uncomfortable slope. We have yet to level once. Attached level stabilizers easy to use, the front box is another surprise, much better than I had imagined.

Towing with our RAM 1500 is a breeze, even without the WDH from Chilliwack to Anaheim we experienced no sway at all. Now with the WDH we experience no truck front end bounciness. This first 4,300 mile trip overall we averaged 17.4 mpg.

Backing up is easier than with the 13ft Scamp, more predictable and precise. The wired rear view camera displaying on a hi res 7" monitor always showed me what is behind while on the road. Did not feel this secure in the past while towing. Really like this feature.

The MaxxFan in combination with the right opened window works miracles. At our request Escape boxed their standard kitchen hood with filter/fan/light and installed a light fixture instead. Did the same with the dinette table, legs and mounts, all boxed up. We now see the MaxxFan does a great job in the kitchen and until we know what permanent table we really want, are using a $13 Walmart folding table.

The thermal dual pane window sliders are easy to use and allow a lot of ventilation, although anyone reading this will be ordering new style trailer with awning type windows and they are nice as well.

Did I mentioned the rear U shape dinette :>)
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:14 PM   #7
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THINGS WE DO NOT LIKED ABOUT THE 21ft

What we did not like was that the trailer is too big for us. We like smaller cozy RVs. The vast storage spaces were wasted on us. The roominess we liked a lot and should be able to enjoy when on the road for months as we planned. This is the reason we moved up to such a large trailer. What we need is a bellows type trailer that expands when we take multi month long trips.

Wish the cabin LEDs had either a dimming feature, if that even exists in the 12v world, or a couple of ceiling lamps with greatly reduced output. Most airports have fewer lumens used to guide the planes in at night.

Wish the shower hose was of the flex metal design, the standard plastic one does not flex much. It can easily be replaced though.

With more living space you get more weight and hitching complexity starting with the WDH. I appreciate what the WDH does for our comfort and safety but I hate dealing with it at the same time. Will always use it though.

These additional complexities comes with the larger trailer territory. I knew they were coming as the days of small trailers were over for us.

All this is more than offset by the comfort, space and ease of use the 21ft offers. Wherever we go, it attracts people and they love the trailer as well. Did I mention how much we enjoy viewing out the rear U shape dinette ?
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:34 PM   #8
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ram 1500

Santiago , We have been thinking of upgrading our Toyota Sequoia 4.7 v-8 (10-12mpg) to a different vehicle . Instead of the WDH we opted for the timbren rubber overload spacers they act like rear helper springs on steroids . I like the Ram trucks with a v-6 (300hp) .it seems to get very good mpg when not towing what does your s get ? .BTW we have the new 2016 escape 21 I liked the looks of the classic but the door and awning were the things I wanted .
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:45 PM   #9
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Hi Jenny, I like our RAM 1500 V6 a lot. Great road vehicle with or without trailer in tow. We have made many runs to northern california since purchase and have yet to get less than 25 mpg on interstate I-5. We loose mileage up the mountain pass but more than make it up on way down.

I never use speed control as I know better than the computer AND I drive conservatively meaning 60 mph tops. Especially when towing due to the humongous trailer front surface area which is so greatly affected by speed.

Having said that, even at my age, when I drive a Porsche up same route, have been know to get tickets. Actually 60 mph in a big plump comfortable full size pick up truck is great. It's relaxing, plenty of space to stretch out and no need to worry over the highway patrol behind a blind spot or in their planes overhead.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:54 PM   #10
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Now you know why I went from a 21 back to a 19.....did not need the space and weight and the accompanying issues.
Very good write up with a lot of observations of your use vs past vs future uses.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:58 PM   #11
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Now you know why I went from a 21 back to a 19.....did not need the space and weight and the accompanying issues.
Very good write up with a lot of observations of your use vs past vs future uses.
Thank you Jim. Yes it's not always easy to anticipate what your true needs are until you try it. I hear you !
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Old 09-01-2017, 03:09 PM   #12
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I agree on your lighting assessment and was considering replacing one "bulb" from the dual LED fixtures. This bulb would be a soft white (3000 K) with less lumens and be placed in the socket that is on when the fixture rocker arm switch is set for one light. With this method the fixture could be soft lighting, but if cooking or other tasks needing more light a simple flip of the switch would prepare the runway for arrivals.

I have placed parchment paper in those ceiling fixtures, this does help. Using the theatrical lighting filters that some have recommended may help even more. The problem with the parchment paper is the Escape supplied bulb is a higher Kelvin, I am guessing greater than 5000. It still is a bright white.

We spent time last year going over our house and installing LED's where practical, we were very careful to get Kelvin numbers that fit our taste and the area we were lighting.
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Old 09-01-2017, 04:11 PM   #13
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Nice review; glad you finally got to go camping and experience the comfort. You may find as others have that for longer trips especially it is nice to have some of the features that sets the 21 apart from the other Escape trailers. Starting with the rear dinette and the view- it is not hard to see why several former 17 owners went to the 21 as they knew they wanted a rear dinette.

Larger counter space and wider aisle also makes working for two that much easier. And the bathroom is the largest in the lineup as well. Works for us!

Little envious of your spartan packing; we look like the Clampetts- only thing missing is Granny in a rocking chair strapped on the roof.

On the WDH- that Husky looks overbuilt for use with any Escape. Sway control is just not needed as it is with a larger, heavier and not as balanced of a trailer. Having had the simple Pro Series that came with our 17B I went back to it when the Anndersen we bought just kept having problems. Simple to hitch up and solid feel.

You're method of charging with vehicle would not work for us as we use a bit of amps making coffee and running heater when colder (usually camp shoulder season) and then often may not drive far after that, and we almost never use hookups and don't own a generator. Just another example of different camping style.

How does the Novakool work for you?
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Old 09-01-2017, 04:26 PM   #14
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How does the Novakool work for you?
Hi Ross, yes the Husky is a husky/beefy unit. Never having tried a WDH before I can only assume some of the others would be easier to mount and remove.

The Nova Kool 6.8 cf 12v fridge is a non issue. We turn it on on our steep inclined driveway at home an hour prior and bring in the food. Never misses a beat. From Susanville CA to Reno NV it was 104F per truck outside temp reading. When we pulled over to use bathroom couple of times, the inside of the trailer was an oven , yet the NovaKool kept doing its thing at 3.5 setting. Albeit it was not cycling 50% of the time and using more power than usual under those conditions but the Trimetric battery monitor was still at 100% charged as the truck is equivalent to a 40amp dc generator on wheels.

Finally arrived in Reno late afternoon where it cooled off to 100F !!!
Tillamook ice cream was still hard.
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Old 09-01-2017, 04:38 PM   #15
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Wish the cabin LEDs had either a dimming feature, if that even exists in the 12v world, or a couple of ceiling lamps with greatly reduced output.
Yes, dimmers for 12 volt LED lighting are readily available. Not all LED lamps work with them, but many (probably most) do.
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Old 09-01-2017, 04:56 PM   #16
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Great reading Santiago.


For the running noise level of the Novacool, how does it compare to the MaxxFan? What percentage of speed for the fan would be the same as the running fridge?


I'll try to do some comparison gas numbers for the my unit on the same basic run later this month.
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:04 PM   #17
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Nice report, thanks.

Do you notice if you get better mileage when towing at higher altitudes? I seem to get better mileage towing out west than back east, but I haven't examined this closely. I also tow at a constant 60 mph when possible.
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:43 PM   #18
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With more living space you get more weight and hitching complexity starting with the WDH. I appreciate what the WDH does for our comfort and safety but I hate dealing with it at the same time. Will always use it though.
I think you will get used to the WDH after time. It only takes a minute to hook up the bars on ours. I did get one of those HitchGrippers from Amazon so I didn't hurt my back when removing the ball assembly. I use Sumo Springs which are similar to the Timbrens for extra capacity on our tow vehicle as well.
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Old 09-01-2017, 06:21 PM   #19
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I find the comments about the LEDs being too bright to be interesting. I find them to be a bit dim, especially over the kitchen area, where I intend to install double lights. My cataracts must be worse than I thought..
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Old 09-01-2017, 06:28 PM   #20
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I find the comments about the LEDs being too bright to be interesting. I find them to be a bit dim, especially over the kitchen area, where I intend to install double lights. My cataracts must be worse than I thought..
One of my future projects is to install a light fixture over the dinette table. I have seen posts where it was done and it doesn't look too difficult. I'm with you though the more light the better.
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