RV Review: Starcraft Centennial 3608
My all-time favorite type of RV is a tent trailer, or as the industry refers to it, a folding camping trailer. It offers all the basic amenities of RV camping – such as off-the-ground sleeping on a real mattress, air-conditioning, heating, a shower, a sink, and refrigerated food and drink – while still maintaining the tent structure that delivers a “next-to-nature” experience that can normally only be found when tent camping. It’s “roughing it” the civilized way.
We found the 2007 Starcraft Centennial line of folding camping trailers to be a prototypical example of this type of RV. The Centennial line from Starcraft is the company’s premier collection of folders, is offered in four spacious floorplans, and provides buyers with a choice of maple or white cabinetry with coordinated vinyl flooring to suit varied needs and tastes. And much to our liking, the Centennial line offers residential-height counters and tabletops-a feature that you won’t find in many other brands of folding camping trailers-so you don’t have to stoop over to use the sink and feel like you’re camping in a trailer built for Hobbits.
Camping With The Starcraft Centennial 3608
We wanted to test the Centennial 3608 for a number of reasons. It’s one of two Centennial models (3608 and 3606) that has an inside shower stall. After a long and dirty day on the trails, we really like a shower. Our camp neighbors who shared dinner with us that night appreciated that we had showered after our eight-mile hike under the hot August sun, too. The shower stall is a combined shower/electric cassette toilet with a wrap-around curtain that hangs from the ceiling. When the toilet tank (the cassette tank can be accessed through an exterior door) is full, you can simply pull it out and carry it to the dump station at the campground instead of having to tow the entire trailer over there. We also used the shower stall (with the water turned off, of course) as a private dressing room inside the trailer.
We especially liked sleeping on the 4-inch box-spring mattresses. It sure beats a one-inch-thick, self-inflating pad between my sleeping bag and the ground. The beds at each end of the Centennial 3608 measured 67 by 78 inches, so they were long enough for my tall frame (6-foot, 2-inches) and deep enough to sleep two people on each comfortably. Best yet, the box-spring mattresses were heated! Yes, I said heated. There is an electrical heating element in each of the mattresses and the comfort level is adjustable through a computer-mouse-sized control module. The trailer’s sleeping capacity on the end-beds alone is four adults. The dinette can also be turned down into a bed for two sleeping teens or children, meaning the 3608 can sleep up to six people.
Speaking of dinettes, the Centennial 3608 offers its dining area in a slide-out (manual, not electric) that provides a wider aisle and a sense of a larger overall living space when the trailer is set up and ready for camp. We like roominess. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in small, confined quarters when the weather gets wet. And even though we never saw a hint of rain, we did enjoy running the optional 13,500-BTU air conditioner and staying indoors napping or playing cards during the mid-day hours when it was hottest outside. The thick (4-inch) seat and back cushions make the dinette seating comfortable, and the tabletop was large enough to keep four people playing poker without anyone being able to take a peek at the other’s hands of cards. It served well when serving meals, too.
Meals were a snap to prepare in the 3608. First of all, the huge (for a folding camping trailer), 3.7-cubic-foot capacity, three-way power (LPG, 12V, 120V) refrigerator held enough food and beverages to keep our party of four fat and happy for an extended weekend. Food preparation was an easy task since the trailer’s interior offered large expanses of counter space on both sides (front and rear) of the cooktop. The double-bowl, stainless-steel sink and high-rise faucet rest in the far forward end of the countertop to the front of the cooktop, leaving a goodly amount of open counter above the refrigerator for working space; and the entire counter top above the storage cabinet aft of the cooktop is usable. The optional microwave oven is nestled underneath this aft counter top. Below it is storage space. There’s also storage for cookware in a drawer beneath the triple-burner cooktop.
Since we’re on the subject of storage, let’s review what the Centennial 3608 has to offer. There’s the space under the microwave and the cooktop that we have already discussed. Then there are the storage drawers under the dinette’s bench seats. And there is a small door, which when opened, reveals storage space underneath the bench seat at the foot of the front bed. Even cooler is the Stor-A-Way Storage Step leading up to the dinette. This not only offers a step up into the dinette seating area, but it opens up to expose more storage space. Starcraft took every effort to utilize what could have been wasted space to create more room for the goodies you like to take camping.
Starcraft Centennial 3608 Body
The box of the Centennial 3608 folding camping trailer is made from laminated sidewalls with Filon fiberglass exteriors for a smooth, sleek look and easy maintenance. Open wheel wells feature durable ABS fender skirts. The front end is covered in diamond-plate sheeting that acts as a stone guard. Tenting material is Aqualon-7, an extremely sturdy waterproof and mildew-resistant fabric that carries a seven-year warranty. There’s enough square footage of screen in the trailer’s tent that when the window-cover panels are unzipped the air flows through as fast as the breeze can blow it. The lifter mechanism was easy to use, and the system comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Its roof is a radius and seamless fiberglass construction that also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Setting up the trailer was easy. We had the roof cranked up, the bed bunks pulled out, the slide-out dinette extended, the tenting supported inside and secured outside all the way around within 20 minutes on our first try. And we really liked that once inside, set-up was minimal since the counters, sink, stove, etcetera, are fixed and already in place, ready to operate.
Outside the body, we found a 12-volt patio light that was bright enough to light our playing cards when seated in our lounge chairs next to the trailer at night. An awning kept the sun off us when we were seated in our lounge chairs next to the trailer during the day. We spent a lot of time lounging on this trip.
An exterior shower facility allowed us to rinse off gear and ourselves when we wanted to clean the dust off, but not go to the extent of engaging the interior shower stall. And a pair of weather-resistant exterior speakers on the door-side of the trailer brought tunes outside from the optional AM/FM/CD stereo system installed inside.
On The Road With The Starcraft Centennial 3608
While the base 3608 is listed as weighing approximately 2800 pounds dry, when you add water to the rig’s 19-gallon under-floor freshwater tank, you gain almost another 160 pounds. Add the 150 pounds or so of food and gear we brought, the 40 pounds of LPG, and the weight of the optional equipment that this option-rich unit was equipped with and it’s easy to see how the towed wet weight got to be nearly 3400 pounds.
The V-8 powered Sport Trac we used to pull the 3608 had a tow rating of 6640 pounds, so it had no trouble pulling the loaded trailer on even the steepest of mountain roads. And the 3608′s tongue weight came in at a little over 360 pounds, which didn’t stress the Ford’s Class III/IV receiver hitch, or upset the Ford’s handling characteristics in the slightest.
The trailer behaved well, too. We experienced no untoward action on the part of the Centennial 3608 during our trip, and we saw only the mildest wiggle after some rather un-mild lane changes on the highway. It’s also taller than most tent trailers when folded down because of the non-folding, residential-height interior structures, but it’s still so low-profile that additional wind-resistance is minimal.
Sure, we could have towed this trailer successfully with a smaller and less powerful vehicle, but why? The Ford Sport Trac offered a serious jolt of power when we needed it, and as every experienced trailer camper knows, a good safety margin between the weight of your trailer and the vehicle’s tow rating is never a bad thing. This also allows for more cargo and passenger weight while staying well within the vehicle’s GCWR. More important to us on this trip was the extra exterior lockable storage that the Sport Trac’s rear bed offered, and the interior room to comfortably carry four adults on the long drive to camp. We found the 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac and the 2007 Starcraft Centennial 3608 folding camping trailer to be an exceptionally well-balanced duet for the active camping family.
Starcraft Centennial 3608 Standard Features
Spare tire, 16,000-BTU furnace/heater, 6-gallon LPG water heater, awning, double-bowl stainless sink, high-rise faucet, 4-inch heated box-spring mattresses, cassette toilet/shower stall, three-burner cooktop, fan/roof vent, 36-foot (30-amp) power cord, adjustable stabilizer jacks (four) with sand pads, Aqualon-7 tent assembly, outside shower, electric brakes, seamless radius fiberglass roof.
Starcraft Centennial 3608 Optional Features
Three-way refrigerator, microwave oven, carryout gas grille, 13,500-BTU air conditioner, bunk fan lights, aluminum spoke wheels, AM/FM/CD stereo with outside speakers, screen room, cable TV ready.
Starcraft Centennial 3608 Specs
Starcraft Centennial 3608
Base Price: $12,853
Travel Length: 18′ 9″
Campsite Length: 26′ 1″
Travel Height: 5′ 3″
Travel Width: 7′ 2″
Interior Height (open): 7′ 3″
Dry Weight (advertised): 2788 lbs.
Wet Weight (public scale): 3380 lbs.
GVWR: 3750 lbs.
Fresh Water: 19 gals.
LPG: Twin 20-lb. tanks
Sleeping Capacity: 6 persons
Starcraft RV, Inc.
P.O. Box 458
Topeka, IN 46571