Alaska Proof – Our RV Tow Car Solutions
When we first started planning our RV road trip to Alaska we were warned over and over about the dreaded roads we would encounter. With all those scary stories about the horrible roads we were concerned about our little RV tow car. I searched online with questions like “How to prepare an RV tow car for Alaska” and “How can I protect my dinghy in Alaska” but I didn’t find much on the subject. So I called Roadmaster (the company that makes our tow bar) and asked them for advice.
Our biggest concern was the sheer number of miles we planned to drag our tow car on this long Alaska trip, and I just knew that something bad was going to happen if we didn’t prepare our toad for the worst of it. How can we “Alaska Proof” our tow car?” I asked. Come to find out they have an “Alaska Tow Car Package” which I found odd considering it’s not listed on their website and I couldn’t find it anywhere online, but I digress (I guess they listened to my complaint and added it a few weeks later: Alaska Pack Tow Car Kit). We did order the recommended Alaska tow car solutions and once we picked up the new RV I promptly installed them (mainly because if I made a mistake I knew we could get it fixed before we left the Fleetwood factory in Indiana).
We’ve been using the protective tow car additions for over three months (you can tell by all the dirt in the photo below) and it seems to perform better than we expected. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t sure it was going to help that much, but considering the roads we’ve traveled these past months I’d say there’s a good chance we’d have a broken headlight, grille, radiator or windshield by now if we wouldn’t have taken these extra precautions. Then only bummer is now I’m sad we waited this long to purchase this protective tow car gear, because it could have prevented a majority of the damage that’s occurred to the front of our little dinghy over the past few years of travel. Here’s the tow products we ended up with to prep our Smart Car for Alaska:
Tow Defender – In my opinion this might be the ultimate piece that provides the most protection for towing. *If you have a rear engine make sure the exhaust isn’t too close to the “fabric” because it will likely melt it.
Guardian Rock Shield – This was the original piece I wanted to order as I’d seen it on many other RVs over the years. I guess the biggest benefit here, assuming you have the Tow Defender, is protecting the tow car from rocks that are thrown from oncoming traffic.
Rock Guard Stowaway – We’ve noticed several other RV’ers that didn’t spend the extra few bucks to get this piece, for me it’s a no brainer as it gives me a dedicated spot to hold the Guardian while we’re camped. If you don’t order this you can slide the shield under the back of the RV, but I was afraid I’d forget its there and run it over while backing out of a campsite, and that would not be good.
Roadwing – This piece is technically for a truck hitch to keep rocks from hitting a trailer or fifth wheel, it’s not necessarily made for the rear of a motorhome, but I was hell-bent on protecting our dinghy so I ordered it anyway. As I mentioned in the video I’m not sure it really provides any extra protection for our specific application.
Quiet Hitch – I’ve had the quiet hitch on my RVs in the past so I only ordered one more with this delivery…I should have ordered another because when I was disassembling the towbar off the Excursion my Quiet Hitch broke to pieces due to corrosion from winter salts. My recommendation is to put a quiet hitch on every receiver attachment you have as it keeps the “sway & wander” that’s typical with these hidden hitches.
If you’re on the fence, or not sure you even want a tow car check out our article and video RV Tow Car – Do You Really Need One? If you want to learn from our RV tow car mistakes make sure to click over and check out: How To and How Not To Tow a Car Behind an RV.
There may be other brands that offer something similar but the Tow Defender and the Guardian are by far the most common solutions we’ve seen up here in Alaska, so I feel like we chose well…even though we may have gone a little overboard. We did see plenty of Do-It-Yourself protective mods however none seemed as good, or as quick and easy to use, as the setup we ended up with for our tow car.
What do you use to protect your RV tow car? Have you found any magic solutions that we haven’t touched on? Please share your tips, tricks and thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks to Roadmaster for helping us find these items and get them in such a rush (I ordered them only 4 days before our departure).
Thanks for this. Im planning RVing to Alaska also! So I have a strange question. When you purchase things like this for your trip, or for that matter anything from Amazon – where do you have the items shipped?
We pick a campground to stay at for a few days that accepts packages for guests (most do) and have it all shipped there.
In regards to your rock defenders, have you heard anything about Protect-a-Tow? We have a Demco tow bar and they don’t make the mesh type that stretches between the motorhome and toad. We’ve called Roadmaster but they, of course, said that their products only work with Roadmaster tow bars.
Any help would be appreciated!
I don’t know anything about Protect-a-Tow, sorry.
Your thoughts on a 5th wheel and a diesel truck? I have horses so I use a goose neck trailer not at all a permanent place to live but a 5th wheel seems you can have more living space. Like your videos would like to see more photography info.
If you’ve got the truck and you like driving it, you should totally get a 5th wheel.
Thank you for this video. We just bought a toad and wondering how to protect it. Have you any experience with
No we haven’t just the roadmaster gear we mentioned.
I have watched mos, if not all, or your videos as contemplating the RV I’m anticipating has me sucking up everything the internet has to offer. You folks have answered so many of my questions and addressed so many of my concerns in a charming, upbeat and entertaining way that never wastes my time. It took a while to get to where you put the cat pan, and thanks since I’ll be travelling with one. One more question about travelling with cats [that I’m too tired to go looking for the right place to post]: do you put cat poop in the composting toilet? If not, what’s the preferred disposal method.
Thanks so much for the kind words.
We do not put the cat waste in our toilet, we use biodegradable bags and scoop & dispose of it separately.
Is the screen ripped.? I thought I read where this was a common problem.
Our screen is not ripped? We have most certainly given it a beating here in Alaska too with a lot of rough roads.
Perhaps the screens that users report as being ripped are designed to stretch under the tow bar instead of on top. I have one with big holes ripped from hitch/tow bar dragging in driveway dips. It looks ratty, but functions well. Ten percent holes still leaves 90% coverage.
Jason – Love the videos. We traveled in Alaska and used the rock shield with no problems. We did, however, take a rock through our windshield when we were driving (not towing) the toad and a big truck passed us. One safety note: don’t stand between the car and RV when driving the car into position – stand to the side. Nicki may be an excellent driver but if the car should jump forward for some reason (probably a mechanical reason) then you would be pinned. Safe travels.
Hi guys, i am new to your site and am enjoying it. We have used the roadmaster system for many years and it all say it is. They are a good company even replacing an arm at no charge when i had a problem. We had bought a class B plus for our Alaskan journey and it did its job. Only thing i left it on rig at one point and your right, big muffler burn. Reminds me of great trip everytime i look at it.
Where is the ladder of your RV?
Also I saw in your first list of items that you want before going to Alaska and one was a spare tire. Did you get one? Where is it?
PS: we are moving to Seattle and right now we are at Mount Rushmore reading to Yellowstone
Maybe you can stop in Seatte on your way back
Our last two RVs didn’t offer a rear ladder so we’ve grown accustomed to not having one. We use a telescoping ladder which we feature in our Travel Store under the “RV Gear” tab: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/xtend-climb-785p-aluminum-telescoping-ladder-type-i-professional-series-15-5-foot
We’ll be in the Seattle area in a month or two. Have fun in Yellowstone.
If the mud flaps aren’t effective because of their distance from the RV’s rear wheels, why is the screen effective? Also, it seems that all 3 of these devices serve only to protect your car from your RV throwing debris. What about debris thrown by other passing vehicles? I would think the windshield would be better served with something that actually covered the glass. Is that as much of a concern?
Wish I had the answers for you Vence, all I know is its worked for us…so far.
Jason, as you have had damage there is debris making it to your car at some point. most possible bouncing stuff. The combination of the mud flap and the bumper guard will protect your car
I just wanted to drop you two a little note. I just love your videos, they are inspirational, helpful and very entertaining! We will be buying our first motorhome next year as we get ready to retire, it looks like we have our sights on a gas tiffin new or slightly used . Anyway keep up the good work and God bless the two of you.
Clear skies, Steve W.
Have fun on your search. If you haven’t seen our RV shopper series you should totally check it out. We take you on a tour of several different RVs and point out a few good and bad of each motorhome: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/category/rvin/rv-shopper-series
Wondering if you are going to do a comparison Excursion Vs Bounder? After traveling in both. Thanks
We will but it’ll likely be when we drop back down into the lower 48, we feel we should give the Bounder at least 6 months before “judging” it against our diesel.
Nice Blog on “How to prepare an RV tow car for Alaska.” I will be towing an “Open Road” trailer with a Smart Car on it. Any thoughts to rock proof it? Thanks.
Do you think these products reduce or improve the MPG of your setup?
I doubt they improve the MPGs but I cannot confirm since we’ve used it the entire time we’ve had the Bounder.
Hi Guys Thanks. We’ve been discussing what to get and where to find it and here it is. Our car is my 11 year old CRV of which i did not really take good care. It has dings and Dans and scrapes but i don’t want anything hiring the front or the windshield. And I came across a solution for the other stuff the other day. ..i am going to get small flat mementos of our travels and make a collage to cover each “wound”
nice! it’ll be a beautiful art car 🙂
The Roadwing would be more effective if it the flaps covered the full width of your vehicle. Re 00:58 in the video: I would suggest that you don’t stand in front of the car, because you will be crushed if Nikki’s foot slips. That would make a broken windscreen seem trivial 🙂 .
yes, good call.