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R-Pod Off-Road Capabilities

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Doctor Strangelove View Drop Down
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    Posted: 31 Jul 2013 at 3:30pm
I am considering the purchase of an R-Pod 177. I will also be purchasing the 4x4 tow vehicle around the same time to fit the camper, such that the vehicle capability will exceed safety and tow requirements by a wide margin. My main purpose for acquiring the R-Pod will be to take it pretty far off the paved road into the desert on dirt roads which can be uneven, washboard-y, and rolling. I understand the need to go slow and easy in such conditions. However, I am not clear on the capabilities of the R-Pod suspension, clearance, and stability. I have searched this forum for any references to this topic and as yet, have not seen anything that mentions this aspect. I spoke with someone at Forest River to get some idea about the off-road capabilities of these units, and I was told that getting an axle riser would be the first recommendation, although he also said that nearly all units sold in the western portion of the US have axle risers as standard equipment (I'm in CA). The axle risers provide an additional 3.75" of clearance from the tire to the fender. I was also told that the torsion suspension system allows each wheel to move independently of the other, and is the same setup as is typically found on Airstreams. I also asked about the stabilizer jacks, and if they could be removed to provide a bit of additional clearance, and to avoid any damage to them in uneven terrain. I learned that the mounting bolts for those are easy to get to and remove so that they could be taken off and then replaced once the destination is reached.

Aside from all that, I am still not sure if the R-Pod is a suitable choice for the conditions I expect to encounter. It would be helpful to hear from others who have had some experience, whether good or otherwise, with taking these campers off the asphalt carpet.


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kymooses View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kymooses Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2013 at 9:48am
Well you' d likely go for and purchase the Hood River Edition version of an R-Pod.  Larger tires, some diamond plating in the wheel wells and on the front to save against "off-road" debris.

Of course this is very dependent on what you mean when you say off road.  Sure some out of the way locations, dirt or gravel roads etc would be no issue.  But that would be the case of any camper.  And slowly enough sure a Pod could be pulled to just about anywhere.

Re-reading your description of where you plan to go I'd think an HRE would do you just fine.  You're not planning on dragging it through an unmarked trail in the mountains or through a creek or anything.

We'll see who else might chime in on this who might have some first hand experience but I can't say I've read a lot about off roading even with and HRE in tow.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seanl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2013 at 9:52am
I too think an HRE would work for what you want to use it for but you will want make sure your load is very secure before getting underway. I have had things fly all over the place on just bumpy blacktop.

Edit: I just wanted to say I have taken mine over some unimproved dirt roads at a slow pace. As a matter of fact the Jeep has so much torque that I towed better in this situation that on the interstate.
Sean, 2011 Rpod RP-173,2009 Jeep Liberty Rocky Mountain Edition

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sleepless Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2013 at 3:16pm
I agree with both of these comments.  From past experience, I have not found that unimproved roads are not necessarily a problem.  If they are rutted and/or have potholes, then they are a problem.

Bob
2014 R-Pod 178 (OUR POD}
2009 Chevrolet Avalanche
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kymooses View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kymooses Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2013 at 8:54am
Originally posted by Sleepless Sleepless wrote:

I agree with both of these comments.  From past experience, I have not found that unimproved roads are necessary a problem.  If they are rutted and/or have potholes, then they are a problem.

Bob

Yes big potholes could be tricky.  I've bumped a curve once or twice and had lots of thing fly all over the place inside my Pod.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PodBlogger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2013 at 3:23pm
We just got back from dragging our 176-T up Peru Creek in Colorado. Certainly not my first trip off of blacktop but it was our first 4x4 trip with the Pod. We do not have the Hood River edition but a few essential mods are going to be required to any Pod you really want to get away with.

1. The center mount tongue jack will need to be removed and a side mounted, removable or swing jack needs to be installed. Reason: When the T.V. traverses over anything more than a moderate hump the greatest amount of vertical movement on the Pod will be at the front and rear of the trailer- just like the old see-saws in the playground.

2. The front and rear stabilizer jacks must be removed. Reason: See #1.

3. The forward mounted black hose holder needs to be relocated. Reason: See #1.

4. The Pod absolutely must have an axel lift kit installed. Reason: See #1.

5. If you can afford it- converting to bigger wheels and tires (on my wish list). Reason: The axel risers lift the body of the Pod but the clearance between the bottom of the axle and the ground remains stock. Moving to a larger wheel/ tire could yield as much as three or four inches in additional axle clearance. CAUTION! If this is done it is imperative to have more than a season or two pulling trailers under your belt. This will definitely affect how the Pod handles at highway speeds.

I could clearly see before we even left that the hitch had to be replaced and the rear jacks had to also be removed. Ten minutes in we tore one of the front stabalizers off. I removed the other and continued on up to where we camped. The road (if you can call it that) was deeply rutted with large rock piles strewn about. Estimated max grade was well over 15 percent in some places. The Pod was fully loaded with water, food and clothing for four days. The pick-up was loaded with four people, 10 extra gallons of water, five gallons fuel, generator, extra propane tank and all of our climbing gear.

Most of the seven or so miles into the site, we had the transfer case locked in four-low and never got above five to ten MPH. When we got to the site, I immediately saw the black water carrier had been torn away but other than that and the stabalizer jack- no other damage occurred.

On a final note- I have been to this area many times over the years and I know the area well. Even so, road conditions change every season so just remember this. GOAL. Get Out And Look. Take a 100 yard walk to see what you are about to attempt. It just might save you a very, very expensive recovery bill.

My last bit of advice is really a plea: Leave No Trace and please stay the trail.

We bought our Pod to do exactly what you are thinking about doing and it was just awesome to drive on by the big boys, pulling their fancy 30' and 40' travel trailers- stuck in the KOA. I can assure you that we had no neighbors.

Let me know what you decide and I will post some more pics of our recent escapade in the coming weeks.

Best of luck and safe travels.
Wyatt, Jenn, Holden & Tristan
2003 F-150
2013 176-T
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tsunami Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2013 at 1:42pm
WinkRemember that the 'overhang' on your Pod is quite a few feet.  Your 'off road' Tow Vehicle probably has less than two feet of overhang in front and back of the unit.  The Pod's rear is more liable to catch on a rut or rock than the tongue.  The tongue will not go any farther down than the hitch.  The Pod's rear can extend down to the road surface if there is enough vertical distance in the roadway.  Some owners have installed rollers at the rear of the Pod to help it drag over big bumps.  However, the Pod's frame is not constructed to handle half its weight being shoved upward at the rear.
The Pod was designed for highway and moderate bumpy roads.  If you plan on 'rock climbing' with a trailer...you need to purchase a trailer specifically designed for that.  Much larger wheels, short front to back distance, taller axle clearance.
tsunami
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