Long before we bought the Bounder, Jessica and I weighed the pros and cons on what style of RV to get. Each has their perks, but ultimately we decided that we were going to go the class A or class C route. We liked the idea of driving down the interstate in our rig rather than pulling it behind us. And at the time, we had Patience with us and we wanted her to be comfortable with us while we drive so she wouldn’t have to sit in the backseat of a SUV or truck. After she passed, we got so used to the idea of the class A, it just seemed to stick. It’s a funny reason I guess to choose an RV based on your dog. But she was important to us.
So now that we have the class A, we have to explore our options on how we want to get around once we’ve reached our destination. I mean I guess that every time that we wanted to go to the grocery store, or see an attraction, or get to a trailhead we could unhook everything from the rig, baton down the hatches and drive 35′ of RV down local roads. Sounds like a fun, right?
That’s where the toad comes in. A toad, or also called a dinghy, is a car that you pull behind your RV. Once you get settled into your camp site you can use the toad to drive around for those smaller, local trips. It saves you gas on those day trips and is a lot easier to get around. Plus, earning the name dinghy, it can act as a lifeboat if you find that your RV’s given out on you for whatever reason and you need a way to go get parts or help. There are a few different ways to pull a toad:
“4 on the floor” – it doesn’t take a wild imagination to figure out what this one means. You pull your toad with 4 wheels on the floor. This is our preferred method for pulling a toad. It’s stable and doesn’t require a trailer or dolly. There is a bit of equipment to buy to get it to hook up, and not just any car can be towed this way. You have to refer to the owners manual on if and/or how it can be towed.
Tow Dolly – This is basically a short 2 wheel trailer that you drive 2 wheels of the car onto and the other two wheels of the car stay on the ground. There are still some limitations on what kind of cars can be towed this way. But one of the main drawbacks it that let’s say that you made it to the campground with your rig and your car on the dolly, now what are you going to do with the dolly? A lot of sites won’t have room for your rig, car, AND your dolly, so you may have to work out a place to store the dolly with the campground owners.
Regular ol’ car trailer – This way you won’t have to worry about any of those pesky details of, “Can my car be towed?”. Just drive it up there, lock it down and your good to go. Downside here is the same with the dolly, where are you going to put it when you’re camping? And car trailers aren’t the lightest things in the world, pulling all that extra weight of the car and the trailer, could seriously hinder your already terrible gas milage and might start to give your RV transmission problems if the weight is past it’s capacity.
Motorcycle hoist – Who needs cars when you’ve got motorcycles! We saw a lot of these set ups during the Sturgis Bike Rally, and man are they cool. Roll the bike on the ramp, hit a button and it lifts right off the ground. Done and done. The only downside is that with a motorcycle being your only set of wheels besides your rig, don’t expect to bring home too many groceries or go out a lot when it’s raining.
We’ve chosen to go the “4 on the floor” route because we’ve got Donovan with us a lot, so that cuts out the motorcycle, and we don’t want the hassle of finding a place to store a dolly or a car trailer. Being that we are on such a budget, we’re having to save up for something not so brand new. And our towing capacity is 3,500 lbs, so the lighter the better. We don’t want to max the rig out by no means. We’ve been keeping an eye out for one of those super small SUVs like a Geo/Chevy Tracker, Suzuki Sidekick, Isuzu Amigo, or a Kia Sportage. Most of them weigh in at 2,500 lbs and don’t require much work to the transmission or driveshaft to make them tow-ready. One of the models with the rear rag top would be great and they’re cheap (for the most part). Even once you find the perfect toad, it still needs the gear to hook it up to the RV, so another part of our tactic is to be on the look out for cars that have already been fitted with the arms and rigging to become a toad. That way the work has already been done and we know that it can be towed.
I’ve only touched on the subjects of toads here and there are tons of resources out there to get you the info that you’ll need to get rolling. Here are a few links that might help you get started:
Motor Home Magazine:
They have tons of articles, how-tos, and checklists of all things dinghy related. And every year they do a breakdown of all current vehicles that can be towed with their specs and pros and cons.
This is an online RV selling site, similar to Cars.com, but for RVs specifically. You can search for toads that have the hook ups preinstalled and are ready to hit the road.