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An RV Dealer Told Me That Travel Trailers Are Not Sturdy Enough To Go To Alaska

by Rick Collins

Alaska Highway Start Photo By: Yufei Yuan

Alaska Highway Start Photo By: Yufei Yuan

After Purchasing a 21 ft 2007 Kodiak Travel Trailer to tow behind my 1/2 ton pickup for a trip to Alaska and back; I was told by an R V dealer that was not a good idea. He says that travel trailers are not made sturdy enough to make the trip. I’m now worried, should I be?

ANSWER: Greetings Rick thanks for submitting your question on our Ask An RV Question Page.

So let me get this straight, the dealer is telling you that a Kodiak Travel Trailer that is named after an Alaskan Grizzly Bear and an Alaskan City is not sturdy enough to go to Alaska, he must sell a lot of trailers with that sales pitch.

The Kodiak Travel Trailer is a lightweight travel trailer. The only problems that I can see is if you were planning to live in it during the Alaskan winter as it may not have enough insulation to protect you from 30 below weather. If you are just going up to Alaska for a summer trip you should be fine.

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Depending on where you are planning to go to in Alaska you may find some of the roads might be a bit bumpy, etc. but if you drive conservatively you should be fine.

Believe it or not there are people that even tow and camp in Tent Trailers in Alaska, not to mention all of the campers that camp in tents in Alaska.

If I were you I would take some great pictures of your Travel Trailer in Alaska and when you get home take those pictures to the RV Dealer and show him that it is safe to take a Travel Trailer to Alaska.

Now go out there and have some fun on your Alaskan adventure and do not let a little bit of misinformation spoil your trip.

I hope this helps.

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RVing Al

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Comments for An RV Dealer Told Me That Travel Trailers Are Not Sturdy Enough To Go To Alaska

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We Survived the ALCAN.
by: Bill

We use to live in Alaska and when we moved we drove the Alaska-Canada Highway. We had a 32 ft Jayco Quest towed by a Ford Expedition with a tow package. We did just fine.

The only damage we suffered was when another car kicked up a rock on our windshield. The Rockies were fine too. The roads can get very rough so you do have to be constantly aware and don't be concerned with your speed.

I wouldn't advise making the journey in the winter unless you are very experienced. Heavy snow, sub-zero temperatures, and no guard rails in places.

Not Sturdy enough for Alaska
by: John Cogovan

We spent the whole month of July in
Alaska and loved it.

We have a motor home, but I dare your dealer to tell all the travel trailer campers we saw that they should not be there.

There are a few roads that are a little rough but in general you will be fine. Stay away from Route 37 (casear highway) out of Yukon going south thru British Columbia. Was very rough.

Again go and enjoy!!!

Alaska Highway Adventures
by: Owen Lindsay

There are a number of travelers who like to make their 8 to 10,000 mile trip sound more daunting than it really is. The trip is wonderful, the scenery is beautiful, and the people you meet are wonderful.

We have lived along the Alaska highway feeder which goes up through Alberta and British Columbia for about thirty years. We chuckle when we see RV's with extra trailers behind,loaded beyond capacity with four or five jerry cans of gas, a full set of tires to change over en route, and a full set of tools.

We know that they have been briefed by someone who has an active imagination. The highways to Alaska likely is no worse than those you travel in the lower 48 states. As the locals have to have a fuel supply along the route, and we drive on tires in Canada, the most you might need is an extra spare and 10 gallons of extra fuel.

Two months ago I saw an overloaded truck and camper roll and the extra fuel caught fire and burned up the whole rig.

All I can suggest is come on up, drive like you own it, and take time to take pictures and smell our flowers.

Go For It
by: Fred Wishnie

We spent the summer up there a few years ago and there were all kinds of trailers up there including pop ups. There's no logical reason not to take it. If it's a poorly made trailer it will break down down here as well as up there.

Enjoy, it's the trip of a lifetime.

Maybe something to it.
by: Anonymous

We have a 30ft travel trailer and we were warned about the same thing. The issue, in my opinion, is that when the manufacturer gives you a maximum weight that you can put in your ultralight trailer they really mean the maximum weight under ideal conditions on a flat smooth highway.

They put in axles that only just meet that specified maximum weight and they use the absolute minimum number of leaf springs. The axles and wheel systems are then carefully spec'd out and if you go over bumpy roads with even a few more pounds than they say, you will end up with bent axles and other issues.

The falling apart stuff happens after the axles are bent, the springs are shot and the trailer is bouncing like mad on each little road pebble. We think we bent up our axles in the Blue Ridge mountains on a crappy road to a spectacular campground even though we are scrupulously careful about weight.

If you can find the right company that works with these trailers all the time and you do end up with bent axles that need replacing, you can have your trailer upgraded with extra leaf springs and better quality axles for only a tiny bit more than simply replacing them.

You do have to really shop around though and find a good company. The prices we were quoted ranged from $1200 to $10,000! We have since been on much rougher roads and much farther on our extra leaves and improved axles and no sign of falling apart.

The trailer also handles a lot better and the stuff inside bounces a lot less. If you make very sure you are not over weight, and preferably underweight and you go slow on the bumps you will likely be fine.

If you notice any axle issues, get them fixed right away. The best warning is uneven tire wear. It might even be worth getting a used trailer and paying to do the upgrade on the leaf and axles yourself for the trip instead of brand new trailer.

It can be done, but the right rig helps
by: @KamloopsRVguy

Having grown up in Terrace BC Canada (not far south of the Alaska panhandle) I can attest to the roads often being in rough shape. I'm glad your trip went so well, but there is some truth in what the dealer told you, I can't count how many times I've seen and talked to people who have had problems with both the Alaska and Cassiar hwy's, RV or no.

Common sense goes a very very long way, our highways in northern BC are not the same highways you find down south. (even here in Kamloops there is a big difference heading further south)

If you're heading into rough roads, take into account the chassis your rig is on, the suspension, the brakes, coach construction, and the clearance.(don't forget your sewer pipes!!!) I've found many RV sewer pipes on the side of the road.

At our dealership we've even had someone with a lightweight trailer come to our shop to trade it in for a more rugged off-road built unit because one of their cabinets, and their fridge were both lying on the floor of their trailer. They were told "sure, go on back roads, just be careful..." That extra research goes a long long way.

We get many people shopping up here that want to take their trailers down forest service roads, some are non-maintained, which means they can at times be entirely impassable unless you have a good 4x4 truck. Some RV's dont' stand a chance in that scenario, others can make it, depending on how they're built.

Dealers dogging trailers for Alaska ?
by: Anonymous

I have been to Alaska way back in 1993 when MANY of the roads were VERY rough.... we took our brand new (back then) was not built very well back in it's day....we travelled over 7k miles and not ONE single problem, NO tire or windshield problems.....the key thing is to use common sense and your brain! If roads LOOK bad, slow down! Duh! Speed is what causes damage, NOT Alaska !

Shame on any dealer who discourages this wonderful trip!

Scamping up the Alaskan
by: Don & Dianne Lattimer

My wife and I made the trip to Alaska in 2001, pulling a 1995 Scamp 5th wheel camper behind a 1995 F150, our only problem was one flat tire.
( tire failure was likely underinflation)The round trip was a bit over 8,000 miles.That was our second trip via the Alaska Highway. If you get to the Sign Post Jungle & look long and hard you will see our sign from our second trip. Yes we still have and use the same camper.

Expedition Range Camp- The Real Alaska Trailer
by: Pete

Those going to Alaska should have a look at the toughest trailer on the market. It is ideal for Alaska living, and it is Bear Proof

I Did It !
by: Rick Collins

Well I made the 12,000 miles with a couple small problems with my trailor. The shades vibrated of the walls and had to get new brain for water heater but not one mechanical issue. The best advise I got was to take my time and I did exactly that. Was gone 2 months and enjoyed it very much and looking forward to the next trip. Took the Alaska Hwy up and came home the Cassier enjoyed everything about entire trip. Thanks to all for your advise. Rick Collins

Comment From RVing Al: Glad to hear you had a good time and that your Travel Trailer survived your Alaska trip. Hopefully you have let the RV Dealer that told you it would not survive know that it did fine.

Dalton Highway in AK
by: Anonymous

One of the most important items to take would be spare tires. A freind went up the Dalton highway with a tent trailer and that was the biggest problem. It really depends where you plan to go and what the road conditions are. The first 2 years in our RV we had A LOT of stuff break and we didn't go anywhere special, it's just the nature of the beast. Just keep a fix-it list and get everything repaired while it is still under warrenty.

Alaska trip
by: Anonymous

My wife and I went last summer.We have a 34', triple slider pulled by a 3500 Dodge, diesel.

Took the Alaska highway both directions because our information re the condition of the Cassiar was negative...Some friends we met along the way took their motor home along that route to return and said it was rough...

Our friends lost a windshield,an awning came loose, broke a pipe, and ruined the paint on their tow car...The trip is a great experience but caution, common sense, and a little luck are the best solutions to a successful trip.... The Kenai Peninsula was our favorite with the salmon fishing and great state parks...We dry camped 27 days or so in the state..Did the loop from TOK to Valdez, Anchorage,Kenai(including Homer and Seward),Fairbanks, and back to Tok...loved it..

I had no damage but took extra tires for the coach and fuel to skip the really high fuel stops...The road around Destruction Bay was lousy; working on it for years, they said...

Take your time and enjoy yourself...We did...Most of the horror stories I heard arose from folks being in a hurry and breaking an axle after hitting one too many holes at high speed...

You can get the ever changing road conditions after you are in state from other travelers..Most folks are very helpful in sharing info about road conditions...

Alaska Trip
by: Kerry

Well, my wife and I made the trip 2 years ago with our 2002 F150 and our 28 year old tent trailer. We went to Whitehorse, Top of the World, Fairbanks, Denali and the Peninsula. Went up the Stewart Cassiar Route (absolutely awesome) and home the Alaska Hwy (boring, not many gas stations). Put on 10,000 kilometres and consider it the best trip we've taken, absolutely no vehicle/trailer problems. I believe roads north of Fairbanks might be questionable, but our routes were very good...Kerry

falling apart travel trailers
by: travelfables

I've known many a brand-new trailer, 5th wheel and the like that fell apart on that trip. Some travel trailers like an Airstream will not fall apart so much. Don't expect to not have problems with your RV Bus as well. The manufacturers often spin out junk and push it hard. So it is refreshing to read about a dealer telling the truth. Just budget some dough for repairs, make sure you have good tires (none of that 13inch Carlisle stuff) and go anyway.

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