RV Review: Chalet 1938 XL Dormer

November 14, 2008
Filed under RV & Trailer Reviews

Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Campers looking for an easy-towing rig have been drawn to the Chalet brand for years. Folded down, the trailers present a low profile with minimal wind resistance. Even the XL 1935 with the new Dormer section, the largest of the Chalet models, weighs just 2780 pounds (unloaded) so it’s towable by many compact SUVs, minivans and small pickups.

At $25,575 as tested, the XL 1938 is among the more costly 18-foot trailers available. Its features and added mechanism call for more-expensive components than the average hardwall box RV, but the Chalet XL 1938 unit’s functionality makes the higher price worth considering.

Campsite Convenience With The Chalet 1938 XL Dormer

It can be backed into just about any reasonable site designed for RV use, and many tent-sized sites, as well. The trailer also has enough ground clearance that it can be hauled on non-paved roads without fear of knocking something important loose.

At the risk of sounding obsessive about a small detail, we truly appreciated the standard-equipment crank-down corner jacks. The jacks on the Chalet are sturdy, solidly mounted, and the channel steel body design is such that the threaded rod shaft is protected from the elements during travel, which helps keep the threads clean. Solid body stability is a byproduct of the use of such good hardware.

A flip of a switch raises the roof on this model, and other Chalets use a spring-loaded mechanism, too. Next, each triangular sidewall, hinged to the adjacent lower wall, is boosted up and latched to the roof. Spring tensioners make this manual procedure almost effortless.

The Chalet XL1935 with the Dormer directly addresses a problem associated with the “A-frame” type trailers. The roof panels hinge up from each end-wall, so there’s not much headroom close to the ends. However, the Dormer section, which features 6 feet, 8 inches of headroom, dramatically expands the full-ceiling-height floor space inside the 1935. The two interior hinged wall sections lift and latch into place to form the sides of the bathroom area and isolate it from the living area. Next, the lightweight hollow-core door, stored on the U-shaped dinette for travel, drops onto a pair of slip-fit hinge pins and you’re ready to go.

Interior fabrics and materials are as expected for a no-nonsense rig designed for real camping use. Durable wallboard and cabinet facings, simple but functional fabrics, and in this rig the optional wood-grain vinyl flooring ($210) should all stand up to rugged campsite wear and tear.

Chalet 1938 XL Dormer Small Space Comfort

The 1935 floorplan is simple but functional, with a large U-shaped dinette/bed in back, the bath across the forward end, a kitchen unit streetside and the fridge and a storage unit curbside flanking the entry door.

Much of our trip involved outdoor activities away from the trailer by day, cooking outdoors, and use of the trailer as a sleeping, dressing and cleanup facility. We usually left the dinette folded down into a bed—which at 80 inches wide by 74 inches deep is huge. Set up in dinette form, the area can seat a small family around the portable table.

Made up of the assembled foam seat cushions, the dinette is amazingly comfortable. We slept soundly and awoke refreshed. The dual-bulb overhead light is more-or-less easily reached from bed, but we would also like to see some kind of smaller reading lights on the sidewalls closer to your natural head position when reclined.

A streetside bulkhead between the bed and galley has a sharp corner though, and after we both caught it more than once, decided it definitely needs to be rounded off. The manufacturer tells us this is an upcoming production change being made.

Our trailer included the optional detachable storage cabinet ($140) that stores under the dinette during travel and hangs above the curbside cabinet aft of the door for use. The galley is typical for a small trailer in that it’s functional and fully equipped for the simple meals commonly prepared in such rigs. There are adequate drawers and spaces for kitchen-related necessities, and we pulled the dinette table over close when we needed the extra working countertop space.

There’s more bathroom space in this little rig than you think. Legroom near the toilet is abundant, standing space in front of the sink is sized for even large people, and the shower offers elbowroom galore. Dual roof vents and a large window bring in lots of light. Standing and dressing in the bath area, likewise, is a no-cramp project.

The Chalet 1938 XL Dormer Hardwall Alternative

Chalet’s rigs offer the best features of a fold-down tent trailer and a traditional hardwall model. Easy, economical towing, hassle-free setup and hardsided security and insulation are combined in a fun and functional package that makes sense for an adventurous camping enthusiast. Toss in the added liveability of the Dormer feature, and you have a highly appealing camping package.


Base MSRP: $23,075

Price as Tested: $25,575

Overall Length: 18′ 4″

Overall Width: 7′ 3”

Overall Height (incl. AC): 11′ 2″

Dry Weight (public scale): 2780 lbs.

Tongue Weight: 340 lbs.

GVWR: 3500 lbs.

Fresh Water (incl. wtr htr): 31 gals.

Grey Water: 15 gals.

Black Water: 5 gals.

LPG: Two 20-lb. bottles

Sleeping Capacity: Two persons

Major Standard Features: ST205 6-ply spare tire, wheel and carrier, Filon fiberglass exterior, front and rear stabilizer jacks with pads, insulated composite floor, 24×36-inch shower, electric roof lift system, 55-amp converter, 16,000-BTU furnace, 3.0 cu/ft three-way refrigerator, Fan-Tastic fan, rear pass-through storage compartment, cassette toilet, hard-side expanding Dormer, solar bronze tinted glass windows, dual battery setup (no batteries), electric brakes.

Major Optional Features: Aluminum mag’ wheel upgrade, wood-grain vinyl flooring upgrade, detachable storage cabinet, dual propane tanks, outside shower, 1.2 cu/ft microwave (not available with oven), 12,000-BTU air conditioner with heat pump, AM/FM stereo w/CD and two speakers, front diamond-plate rock guard, roof lift remote control, carpet kit, 20,000-BTU furnace upgrade, 17-inch oven with three-burner cooktop (not available with microwave), outdoor grille, rear opening skylight upgrade.


Chalet RV

124 41st Av. SE

Albany, OR 97322



Related Content

Last 5 stories in RV & Trailer Reviews

Other stories that might interest you...


Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!