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Dutchmen Lite 24 BH Travel Trailer

September 1, 2003
Filed under RV & Trailer Reviews, Trailer Reviews

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A well-informed consumer can tell you that there are plenty of lightweight travel trailers on the market. The key is finding one that’s not also light on features, amenities and value. We found something with an interesting new option package that you may want to take a good look at. The Dutchmen Lite 24 BH can be loaded up with goodies and towed off the dealer lot for under $15,000. Despite the entry-level pricing, the trailer’s construction, equipment, design and layout are not cheaply devised.

CONSTRUCTION CODE

The 24 BH sidewalls are built with 16-inch on-center, 11/2×2-inch studs, with an extra
2-inch belt rail around the perimeter for added strength. Galvanized steel straps are used around the entire frame perimeter, tying the floor to the sidewalls and ceiling. Double or triple (depending on location) studs are used around all the doors and windows. And to keep occupants warm and snug on cold nights, the entire coach is lined with residential-style, cut-and-fit, R7-rated fiberglass insulation.

Five-inch trussed rafters with a 3-inch slope allow walk-on-top sturdiness and rapid water runoff. The roof decking is made from 3/8-inch-thick, structure-wood board that runs the full length of the coach. That is topped with a seamless EPDM covering with fire-retardant backing. The roof is ducted for an air conditioner, and fitted with cut panels of R-7-rated fiberglass insulation.

The floor is made up of 2×3-inch studs running lengthwise to allow for heater duct installation; R-7-rated fiberglass insulation; a 5/8-inch, exterior-grade, tongue-and-groove plywood floor; and a linoleum floor covering.

Underneath it all is the backbone of the Dutchmen 24 BH. The frame is built using cambered steel I-beams with welded outriggers to help support the weight of the walls. The walls are mounted on top of the floor for added strength. A puncture-resistant polyethylene underbelly wraps the floor to protect vitals and inhibit moisture intrusion.

And finally, just to further soothe any concerns the customer may have, a two-year bumper-to-hitch warranty on the construction of the trailer is offered. A one-year roadside assistance program is also included with the purchase.

OUTDOOR LIFE

The exterior of the Dutchmen 24 BH offers a few nice tricks. Radius-style jalousie windows feature tinted glass, and are sealed with butyl rubber and silicone for a watertight finish. A 30-inch-wide entry door keeps ingress and egress from becoming a squeeze. The aluminum siding is made from 0.024-inch-thick panels with “S”-locking tops and bottoms; and bottom exterior aluminum panels are attached with screws through the side so water can’t be trapped.

Our test unit was outfitted with optional, twin 30-pound LPG tanks, a wise investment for those with long trips in their plans. It was also equipped with the optional outside spray shower (located street-side) — perfect for cleaning up hands and shoes after outdoor activities. All utility (power, city water and water-tank fill) and sanitation (black and gray tank dump valves) facilities are on the same side (street) of the trailer, making emptying waste tanks and refilling the freshwater tank a one-stop deal, but still far enough apart to avoid contamination. A street-side worklight would have been appreciated for nighttime camp-utility chores.

An optional A&E awning spans nearly the entire curbside length of the trailer. A 120-volt AC outlet is positioned just above the wheelwell — placed just right for using electrical appliances (blender, sound system, insect-repellent device…) outside while relaxing in the shade of the awning. A bright worklight set high on the curbside wall provides semicircular shaped illumination for the “front porch.”

A medium-sized, locking luggage door on the street side and a larger, curbside locking luggage door provide access to an “L”-shaped, pass-through storage compartment at the nose of the trailer — Dutchmen refers to it as “Storage Plus” — and an optional sliding bin for this area is available. There’s room behind the curbside door for a laundry basket, parked in the bottom leg of the “L”-shaped, pass-through compartment, directly underneath the laundry chute at the foot of the master bed.

NEW OPTION

Customizing your Dutchmen to perfectly fit your lifestyle is easy with the extensive roster of options available. For camping families the most interesting addition to the long list of options available on 2003 Dutchmen travel trailers (certain models only, including the Lite 24 BH) may be the Pac-n-Play sleep/storage system.

As it appears on the 24 BH, the Pac-n-Play offers a huge (413/4 inches wide and 47 inches high) hinged door on the rear of the trailer’s street side. The locking door has a large emergency exit window and provides exterior access to the bunk beds inside. The lower bunk is hinged and can be swung up and latched out of the way to create a storage area measuring 503/4 inches tall, 733/4 inches wide and 221/2 inches deep — a cavity large enough to hold two bicycles. Even with the bottom bunk down, the storage underneath is still 153/4 inches high.

INNER SPACE

An open-center floorplan helps this smallish trailer feel larger than it really is. The central living/dining/galley area is book-ended by a master bedroom up front, bunk beds and a bathroom in back. An interior height of 771/2 inches and a fair-sized dinette window heighten the sensation of spaciousness in this lightweight towable.

Galley gear in our 24 BH test unit included the optional double-door refrigerator (another good investment for boondockers), three-burner range with oven, and the 1-cubic-foot microwave oven. There was a fair amount of under- and overhead-cabinet space in the galley, too. We were well set for making meals. The double sink with high-rise faucet was nice, but limited galley counter space forces you to monopolize the dinette table with food preparation. Dining was conveniently close and, at 391/2 inches wide by 291/2 inches deep, the dinette table would sit a crowded four. Made up for bed, the convertible offered a 71-inch by 401/2-inch sleeping surface of 5-inch upholstered foam pads.

A queen-size (74 x 59 inches) innerspring mattress highlights the master bedroom. Plenty of drawers and good wardrobe and cabinet space surround the platform bed. Gas support struts on the hinged platform allow easy access to an under-mattress storage area approximately half of the bed’s size. The other half of the under-bed space is filled with the 6-gallon, gas/electric DSI water heater. At the foot of the bed is a laundry chute — a flat panel door with a hinge — a simple, but great, idea. Dirty clothes can be dropped through the chute to a basket waiting below in the pass-through storage area.

The rear bunk beds measure 29x74x3 inches
and offer 22 inches (top bunk) and 31 inches
(bottom bunk) of headroom. Adjacent is a full head, including a stand-up (74 inches tall) ABS tub/shower surround that’s 18 inches wide by 351/2 inches long, a lavy sink and cabinet, mirrored medicine cabinet and a marine-style toilet.

Interior storage space throughout the 24 BH was plentiful. Aside from the Pac-n-Play option, the galley cabinets and drawers, and the roundabout of cabinets and drawers in the master bedroom, there’s also a closet wardrobe and a set of drawers near the bunk beds. Additional storage can be found in overhead cabinets and under the seats of the convertible dinette.

LIVEABILITY

The toughest part about towing the Dutchmen Lite 24 BH was making sure the hitch, coupler and all the safety equipment was properly engaged; but its tongue weight (540 pounds) may require the use of a weight-distributing hitch.

Although there is ample bed space for six persons, there is seating space for just four at the dinette table, so two will have to dine elsewhere or food will have to be served in shifts. The appliances and other equipment were top brands that worked without a flaw, and fuel (LPG) and holding tank capacities were high enough for long weekend “getaways.” When properly outfitted, the Dutchmen Lite 24 BH is a nicely livable space in a relatively small travel trailer.

SPECIFICATIONS
Dutchmen Lite 24 BH

Base Price (w/ standard-run options*): $11,942
Price as Tested: $13,499
Overall Length: 25’ 2”
Overall Width: 8’
Overall Height: 11’
Dry Weight (w/ standard-run options*): 4452 lbs.
Dry Hitch Weight: 540 lbs.
GVWR: 7540 lbs.
Freshwater: 36 gals.
Gray/Black Water (dual tanks): 60 gals.
LPG: Twin 30-lb. tanks
Sleeping Capacity: 6 persons

Major Standard Features:
Locking, insulated exterior luggage doors; tinted windows; twin 20-pound LPG tanks; lavy power exhaust vent; ABS tub surround; double-bowl, white acrylic sink w/high-rise faucet; 120-volt duplex receptacles; innerspring mattress; laundry chute; mirrored medicine cabinet; three-burner, high-output cooktop; 6-gallon gas DSI water heater; on-demand water pump; 25,000-BTU, furnace heater; single-door gas/electric refrigerator.

Major Optional Features:
Twin 30-pound LPG tanks; 12-volt heat pads for holding tanks; *13,500-BTU, ducted air conditioner; 15,000-BTU ducted, air conditioner; *TV antenna; three-burner range with oven; double-door refrigerator; water filter with spout; *microwave; *awning; *AM/FM/CD stereo with weatherband; diamond-plate front rock guard; stabilizer jacks, rear ladder; skylight in tub area; slide tray for Storage Plus; solid oak cabinet doors; exterior shower; spare tire kit.

Manufacturer
Dutchmen Mfg.
305 Steury Ave.
Goshen, IN 46528
574/534-1224
dutchmen-rv.com

Thanks to Best RV Center (209/239-4119) of Manteca, California, for the loan of the Dutchmen Lite 24 BH for this test.

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