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My wife, Jan, and I became interested in travel trailers as a means for better access to photography sites, especially in the Western U.S.  We are avid photographers and have taken a number of car trips to sites in the West.  We learned quickly that desirable accommodations are seldom located near the sites we wished to photograph, making it difficult to reach remote sites at the most favorable hours. 

My wife was not excited about my suggestion to rent an RV.  We have no experience with RVs and she has generally disliked using rental cars, much less an RV we would eat and sleep in.  Travel trailers seemed the most suitable, for access in parks where we had seen posted restrictions on large RVs, and providing the flexibility to establish a base of operation, with flexibility to use the tow vehicle unencumbered.

Thus, a few months ago I started researching travel trailers which would suit our perceived needs.  I relatively quickly identified the Oliver Legacy Elite II as a potential fit.  Upon seeing photos of the LE II features, Jan responded favorably, saying it looks like an upscale sailboat with wheels.  This was in her comfort zone, as her family had owned sailboats.

I found the Owners Forum which has proven to be an immensely useful resource to learn about travel trailers, boondocking and related topics.  Contemplating the purchase of a new LE II, I have read widely to establish a knowledge base to make informed decisions on the purchase and use.  I very quickly became impressed by the sharing of information by Oliver owners, and especially the innovative solutions for adapting and using their trailers.  I assembled an LE II build list and we planned to visit Hohenwald for a factory tour in late May (now).  However, the coronavirus pandemic destroyed those plans.

So, until travel in the U.S. becomes relatively safe again, I am continuing to investigate details about how we would equip and use an LE II, primarily focusing on boondocking in state and national parks, BLM land and some use of RV parks.  We have a BMW X5 35d (diesel) which I believed would well suited as a tow vehicle, although I had until recently seen little mention of tow vehicles other than pickup trucks.  Recently, I noticed a post by AndrewK, indicating he uses a BMW X5 35d as his tow vehicle.  I sent him a personal message asking of his experience towing his LE II with his BMW.  He promptly replied and generously offered to have a phone call to answer any and all questions.  He confirmed the BMW was an excellent tow vehicle and provided many additional insights from his recent experience purchasing an LE II.  We spent several hours on the phone, for which I am very grateful. 

We look forward to purchasing an LE II and meeting many owners whose handles I have come to know.  I thank you for the information and hope I can contribute in future.

Don Haig

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Posted (edited)

I'd love to know how the current X5s tow.  We camped out of an E53 for years and it was a real trooper, but it definitely wouldn't have handled an elite II very well.  The E53 was a good bit smaller though and the suspension wasn't nearly as advanced.  There are a few people who tow with the larger Audis, I think two now with Land Cruisers, and at least one person was towing with a Merc for a bit.  And of course I'm sure there are many others who tow with SUVs that we don't hear from.

Edited by Overland

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Posted (edited)

Welcome to the forum and good luck on your quest. Ollies are neat.

Since you are planning on towing on unpaved roads, such as rough potholed BLM or forest roads, be very aware that the dynamics are very different from towing on maintained, smooth surfaces. I personally would be uncomfortable towing with any unibody SUV. A full sized truck or heavy body on frame SUV would be a much more suitable choice, for a variety of reasons. There is no reason your BMW couldn’t go on those roads, but it will have some serious limitations. Towing any trailer (except an offroad specialty brand) will be slow and jarring if the road is nasty, plan for much longer trip times.

You will need gravel protection for the trailer to minimize damage to the frame and body, at the very least a full set of mudflaps on the TV. Stonegard or a similar protective film is also something to consider.

Have you considered a high quality truck camper like a smaller Northern Lite? That and a heavy duty 4wd pickup would be my first choice for what you want to do. With this setup you can camp at a small remote desert scenic overlook or forest road pullout and not worry about towing or locating a suitable large area for a trailer. .....  It would save a bunch of wearing miles driving back and forth to a more developed camping area.... https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/camper-reviews/our-2012-northern-lite-9-6-special-edition-experience/

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EDIT: some great photo spots are completely off limits to trailers, like the incredible Echo Park area in Dinosaur NM:    https://www.nps.gov/dino/planyourvisit/echoparkcampground.htm .... and it is a very long, wearing trip into the canyon and back to your Ollie. But it would be a fine spot for a few days in a truck camper. When you drive back to these isolated spots, you must bring rough camping gear in case you get stranded by a summer storm that makes the road impassible for a couple of days:

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John Davies

Spokane WA

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Edited by John E Davies

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Don and Jan, Welcome to the Oliver Forum! While most Oliver owners tow with trucks, there are a number of us that tow with an SUV. A truck would not work well for our everyday driving, and it certainly would not fit into our garage. Earlier thread on SUVs here

We tow with an Audi Q7 SUV, which has been a wonderful tow vehicle. Plenty of power on hills or when accelerating. It has a tow rating of 7700 lbs. I did a quick search for BMW X5 35d tow rating, and came up with 6000 lbs. That might be marginal for an Elite II with water and all of your gear. The tow rating I found might be for gas, and not diesel, so you should check out the Trailer Life Towing Guides

Like you, photography is one of my passions, especially when camping. The Oliver is the only RV we have ever owned, and we have loved it. Rather than a Class C or a truck camper, we have been glad we made the choice of a detachable trailer to leave behind as a base camp when we take the car for day trips. 

54 minutes ago, John E Davies said:

Since you are planning on towing on unpaved roads, such as rough potholed BLM or forest roads, be very aware that the dynamics are very different from towing on maintained, smooth surfaces.

While I have never towed on a severely potholed road, we have driven on plenty of dirt roads and camped on BLM land. My all time favorite campsite was on BLM land in Valley of the Gods, where we drove seven miles on a dirt road. It took us half an hour, so we must have driven slowly. 

You should also be aware that many European SUVs prohibit the use of a weight distribution hitch. Check your owner's manual. 

1 hour ago, dhaig said:

Recently, I noticed a post by AndrewK, indicating he uses a BMW X5 35d as his tow vehicle.

Yes, but I think he had his vehicle modified to permit the use of a WDH. See earlier thread here

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David Stillman, Salt Lake City, Utah

2016 Oliver Elite II  Hull 164    |    2017 Audi Q7 tow vehicle. 

Travel and Photography Blog: http://davidstravels.net

 

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Posted (edited)

Don and Jan,

Nice to have you on the forum. Oliver TT's will serve you well in your intended application's. Just plan your purchase well - if boondocking is in the plan, go full solar - think about improving the components - Overland and others have the experience on this, add the composting toilet, and  - well you get the drift. 

As for tow vehicle - it appears the BMW X5 35d would be at its limits, and WDH - questionable.  Modifications may get you there, but I doubt the final result will be equal to a  proper OEM sample. You may be averse to trucks, so, there are a few HD, off road non PU that fit the bill. In any case, as others mentioned, anything less than "in the comfort zone" for total weights, hitch ratings, and 4WD, etc., -  will leave you less than satisfied.  Many of us here have -been there, done that-  While brand, size, powertrains may be debated,  it comes down to a safety, comfort, and utility factor that really drives the TV selection for towing 6000lbs plus. If it didn't, I'd still have my former TV. 

I'll add, and its your experiences too, "desirable accommodations are seldom located near the sites we wished to photograph, making it difficult to reach remote sites at the most favorable hours" and with the appropriate TV and a well set up Oliver -  we can all share experiences like those David Stillman so wonderfully captures with his photography.

Happy trails on the path to your Oliver experience.

I'll add as an edit - we have used our set-up to get close to the "wilderness" and then head out in the truck, for a daytrip, or over night tent trip -  to places where the Oliver would be tough to take.  One of the gems from last summer was indeed  Dinosaur NM. It is a wonderful place to explore the back country, as JD has indicated.

Edited by BackofBeyond
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Cindy,  Russell and  "Harley dog" . Home is our little farm near Winchester TN

2018 Oliver Legacy Elite II - 2018 GMC 2500 Duramax 

"Die young - As late as possible"

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Welcome from FT. Worth, our trailer does say Lone Star Travelers, it's not a group, or club, just our own design. Hope to meet on down the road someday when the parks open up and camping is back to where it was. 

trainman

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Elite II, Twin Bed, Hull #489, 2019 RAM 1500, 5.7 Hemi, 4X4, Crew Cab, 5'7" bed, Towing Package, 3.92 Gears.

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We had Lone Star Oliver on our trailer for years, I finally took it off because folks thought it was made in Texas and had other confusing questions we got tired of answering. It was like a broken record!  It was a consistent conversation starter though!

Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 6.7L Cummins Diesel

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Thanks to all for the warm welcomes.    It is great to know there are some Ollie owners in TX, even as close as Ft. Worth.

Thanks also for the comments and suggestions regarding use of our BMW X5 35d as tow vehicle for an LE II.  I have spent quite a bit of time investigating the questions of towing capacity and use of WDS on this vehicle.  The BMW X5 owner's manual is silent on trailer towing and WDS.  I have been unable to find anything appearing to be a BMW official position on WDS, but many references to BMW recommending against use of WDS.

When we purchased the X5, I installed an Invisihitch (aka Execuhitch, now out of business) which claimed towing capacity of 7,700 lbs and tongue weight up to 600 lbs.  At the time, they claimed to be used by BMW in Europe as the OEM offering and meeting stricter European standards for hitches.  The U.S. BMW hitch offering at the time was rated at only 6,000 lbs.  Stealth Hitch is makes a very similar product and similar claims for hitch capacity (see: https://stealthhitches.com/products/x5-f15-model-year-2014-2015-2016-2017?rq=mk_bmw~md_x5~yr_2014~ly_f15-also-fits-m-sport&variant=32517249106013).

I found it hard to believe BMW would build the X5 with different towing capacities for the U.S. and Europe, so differing hitch rating standards seemed a plausible explanation for the differing capacities.  I had previously read of concerns about the limitations of unibody construction vs. body on frame, such as mentioned by John Davies.  However, I had not until today been able to find any evidence of such occurrences.  See: https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=863710  This has caused me to re-consider using the X5 as tow vehicle.

Several of you mentioned the hazards of towing an LE II on rough roads such as those encountered on BLM land.  We have been on such roads in our X5 on a limited basis, but never towing a travel trailer.  We are most likely to do as several of you suggested- set up a base station at locations close to the desired wilderness location, then drive the TV and hike to desired destinations.  We are very unlikely to take the X5 without the trailer in tow on very rough "jeep roads".

John Davies had suggested a truck mounted camper, but I think these are a much less desirable solution- very limited space, questionable handling and stability, clearance on poor roads, etc.  I have previously owned a pickup and will likely review current offerings.  Having had six years experience with the X5 diesel, I would certainly look for a diesel TV alternative with 4wd.  A pickup also offers more storage options than the X5.  I had been looking at options for tongue mounted or rear mounted  cargo carriers for an LE II.

Your recommendations of favorite destinations was a great bonus.  Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the followup post, I hope you figure out what will work best.
 

I remember watching “Race to Dakar”, with Charlie Boorman racing across the Moroccan desert on his BMW motorcycle. His chase/ camera crew vehicle was a new 2006 X5 which had numerous difficulties, including a shattered front (aluminum) A arm. It did not seem to be a wise choice for venturing far from help.... when wandering around in the remote American West, a bigger and more robust vehicle makes for less worry and stress for its occupants. If you want to use an SUV, a Land Cruiser 200 fitted with LT tires would be a great choice.

John Davies

Spokane WA

Edited by John E Davies

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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On 5/27/2020 at 3:14 PM, dhaig said:

Thanks to all for the warm welcomes.    It is great to know there are some Ollie owners in TX, even as close as Ft. Worth.

Thanks also for the comments and suggestions regarding use of our BMW X5 35d as tow vehicle for an LE II.  I have spent quite a bit of time investigating the questions of towing capacity and use of WDS on this vehicle.  The BMW X5 owner's manual is silent on trailer towing and WDS.  I have been unable to find anything appearing to be a BMW official position on WDS, but many references to BMW recommending against use of WDS.

When we purchased the X5, I installed an Invisihitch (aka Execuhitch, now out of business) which claimed towing capacity of 7,700 lbs and tongue weight up to 600 lbs.  At the time, they claimed to be used by BMW in Europe as the OEM offering and meeting stricter European standards for hitches.  The U.S. BMW hitch offering at the time was rated at only 6,000 lbs.  Stealth Hitch is makes a very similar product and similar claims for hitch capacity (see: https://stealthhitches.com/products/x5-f15-model-year-2014-2015-2016-2017?rq=mk_bmw~md_x5~yr_2014~ly_f15-also-fits-m-sport&variant=32517249106013).

I found it hard to believe BMW would build the X5 with different towing capacities for the U.S. and Europe, so differing hitch rating standards seemed a plausible explanation for the differing capacities.  I had previously read of concerns about the limitations of unibody construction vs. body on frame, such as mentioned by John Davies.  However, I had not until today been able to find any evidence of such occurrences.  See: https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=863710  This has caused me to re-consider using the X5 as tow vehicle.

Several of you mentioned the hazards of towing an LE II on rough roads such as those encountered on BLM land.  We have been on such roads in our X5 on a limited basis, but never towing a travel trailer.  We are most likely to do as several of you suggested- set up a base station at locations close to the desired wilderness location, then drive the TV and hike to desired destinations.  We are very unlikely to take the X5 without the trailer in tow on very rough "jeep roads".

John Davies had suggested a truck mounted camper, but I think these are a much less desirable solution- very limited space, questionable handling and stability, clearance on poor roads, etc.  I have previously owned a pickup and will likely review current offerings.  Having had six years experience with the X5 diesel, I would certainly look for a diesel TV alternative with 4wd.  A pickup also offers more storage options than the X5.  I had been looking at options for tongue mounted or rear mounted  cargo carriers for an LE II.

Your recommendations of favorite destinations was a great bonus.  Thanks!

You might check this forum.  When we were researching our X5 purchase, I got a lot of information there.  I don't know how much you'll find about towing, but many of the members are very knowledgeable about the build and capabilities of the X5.  

We have no experience towing with the BMW; do not have a hitch.  Thought about installing one for our bike rack, but we have a pickup that works fine and I want to keep our X5 happy for as long as we are still driving 😇  Love the car!

As for the discrepancy in towing capacity, domestic and foreign: that could have something to do with differences in safety standards from the US to abroad.

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; taking delivery December 7, 2020

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

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Susan,

Since my postings in May, I did more research on towing with a BMW X5 35d, including the Bimmer Forums for which you provided a link.  I found a number of cases where owners of similar vehicles were successfully towing loads similar to an Oliver LEII.  Best of all, though, I connected through the Oliver forum with the owner of an LEII, using an X5 35d at TV.  We have had several conversations in which I posed many questions.  As a result of these conversations, I am inclined to use our X5 35d to tow an LEII, when we are ready.

However, due to the pandemic, we have not proceeded to place an order for an LEII.  We will continue to wait to do so until there is clear evidence we could travel safely.  In the meantime, I continue to follow the forum discussions, which I find very informative.  I have seen your posts and am aware you have ordered an LEII.  I am sure you will enjoy it.

We were in Portland in March, 2017 for a ceramic arts conference, then spent a week hiking and photographing in the Columbia River Gorge.  It is disturbing to hear of the scale and severity of the forest fires in your state.

Regards, Don

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