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CPL

triple towing

Question

CPL

All,

Have a couple of questions and looking for an answer.

My family enjoys both camping and fishing, historically we've just thrown the tent in the boat, hooked the boat to the Suburban and we're off down the road. The boat is a 16 foot Lund Pike 16D with 60 HP motor so nothing particularly huge/heavy.

We recently rented a popup tent-camper and really enjoyed "camping" with that and are considering purchasing one for ourselves.

What would folks thoughts be on triple towing with the vehicles arranged: Suburban-camper-boat, assuming the tandem trailer combination is less than the tow capacity of the Suburban?

I've checked the motor vehicle regulations in South Dakota and it appears that it is legal to have all hitch ball mounts (e.g. no stipulation that the middle be a 5th wheel) as long as you're under the length limit.

Does anybody have experience doing this? What modifications have to be made (or should be made) to the camper to handle the towing and braking?

Most of the time we are camping within 200 miles of our home and there are no particularly steep hills.

Thanks to all for their thoughts.

Scott

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Valv

Scott, I would contact a SD Highway patrol office or at least and officer and ask them. I believe you have to have a 5th wheel hitch to do this, the bumper pull type are not allowed.

You can receive dozens of suggestions but at the end it's the law enforcement that will issue a citation, ticket, or a statement in an accident.

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CPL

South Dakota does not require a fifth wheel. Here's the relevant law:

32-22-12.1. Certain combination exempt--Specifications--Violation as misdemeanor--Rules. The provisions of §§ 32-22-9 to 32-22-11, inclusive, do not apply to a combination of vehicles consisting of a towing motor vehicle and two trailers which conform to the specifications contained in this section. In such a combination, the first trailer shall be connected to the towing vehicle by a ball hitch, a gooseneck hitch, pintle hitch or a fifth wheel hitch. The hitch connecting the second trailer to the first trailer shall be a ball type hitch, gooseneck hitch or a pintle hitch directly fastened to the frame of the first trailer. The second trailer may not exceed twenty-four feet in length and if the gross weight of the second trailer is greater than three thousand pounds, it shall be equipped with breakaway brakes. The maximum length of the vehicles in this combination may not exceed seventy-five feet. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

The Transportation Commission may by rules adopted pursuant to chapter 1-26 prohibit or restrict the use of the combination of vehicles described in this section on any highway where such combination of vehicles would create a safety hazard.

They also have a "FAQ" that relates to triple towing on the SD Highway Patrol web site that basically restates the codified law.

So, I think, from a "legal" perspective (and while in South Dakota) it is alright to not have a fifth wheel. My concern is more about how to equip the middle trailer to accomplish the feat.

Thanks,

Scott

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Meat-Run

I think for safety reasons I wouldn't do it unless it is a 5th wheeled camper then the boat. Myself and two buddies just came back from ND with 5th wheel and enclosed trailer behind it road flawlessly, minus the wind and poor gas milage it was a dream to pull and felt VERY safe. Now you put a pop-up camper and a boat trailer behind your vehicle that in any windy N/S Dakota breeze and you put not just your family in jeapordy but others on the road from the swaying trialers even if the law states it's ok I wouldn't recommend it. Just my .02.

mr

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Powerstroke

I would echo the sentiment from Valv and contact the (Contact Us Please) or highway patrol.

If SD doesn't require the second vehicle to have a 5wheel or goose hitch I would make sure its not a federal requirement. Local laws can be more restrictive, but they can't be looser.

If everything checks out I would start by getting each of the vehicles weighed with the max weight you would ever load. Write those down and add them up for capacity purposes.

Make sure the second trailer can support the weight of a boat mounted to it and make sure the brakes can handle the push of the boat. The frame of the camper probably will need modifications to handle a hitch. I'm sure you're out of warrenty on your camper so thats probably not an issue.

I guess if everything checks out than you're fine legally, but I would have reservations about it. Most likely its a half ton suburban and thats not likely to handle the weight combo of two trailers.

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SVO

The fifth wheel hitch is not required, but two bumper hitches together will sway too much at higher speeds. Checked with three camper dealers last spring and all three said the same thing, not illegal, just very unsafe. Also, all camper dealers said it is illegal to tow with a pop up camper.

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iffwalleyes

I believe it is legal in the Dakotas but I think caution should be exercised when doing this as mentioned by others. But if you are thinking a pop up and boat in tow I don't know that the frame of a pop up could support that load.

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cold one sd

My niece and her husband used to do this here in SD. The frame structure of the pop up camper was too weak to pull the boat behind it, so they had a hitch built that attached to the back of the boat trailer and pulled the camper behind the boat. They were happy with doing it this way. Maybe the newer pop up campers have a better frame and will handle it. Either way, a couple of sway controls would be a good idea. I think I would want brakes on both the camper and the boat trailer.

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