Travel Trailer Reviews
As usual, anything goes in the ever-changing travel trailer market. Units continue to push the envelope in terms of design and construction, with the mantra of late being how low can they go — weight-wise, that is. Better building practices and a quest for modest weights have RV designers rewriting the rules of what a travel trailer can be. As such, the travel trailer marketplace continues to splinter in a number of directions, with segments emerging under the ultra-light, lightweight, hybrid and expandable trailer names. And within these various groupings, more and more RV manufacturers continue to strive to put their units on the map by enticing buyers with the possibilities of a cost-effective trailer that is towable by something consumers already have in their driveways. Camping Life gives you a handful of travel trailer reviews to help you decide which is the right travel trailer for you!
The Antigua has been a phenomenal success for Starcraft and we can see why. It’s got it all: storage, living space and the kinds of standard equipment that keep sales jumping. It’s little wonder then why the company decided to increase the number of floorplans for this expandable line (ranging from 20 feet to nearly 30 feet in length), adding three new models into the mix. The 235QBB, 255RQB and 235SBS all feature interior queen-size beds and expandable bunks. A full bathroom, galleys, and sleeping capacities ranging from six to a whopping 10 (depending on the crew’s willingness to snuggle, of course) are staples throughout the line. GVWRs remain a very towable 5000 pounds. Notable standards include 60 pounds worth of LPG gas, 36-gallon fresh water capacity (27-gallon gray, 25-gallon black), 6 feet, 4 inches interior height, and the company’s seven-year warranty for the Aqualon tenting and 12-year roof coverage.
Starcraft RV: 800/945-4787; starcraftrv.com.
With 16 models to choose from (24 feet to 32 feet), we’ll forgive you if you weren’t aware that Aerolite now offers seven new floorplans for 2006. It appears Dutchmen’s top-selling, ultra-light brand is multiplying like rabbits! More choices are always good. As one might expect, there is a lot of diversity within the brand, ranging from five models with expandable bunks, six with single slide-outs, seven with bunk bed configurations, and just about every type of floorplan in between.
What all the Aerolites have in common is amazingly easy towing; the GVWR for the entire lineup remains an easy-does-it 6000 pounds. For Dutchmen, towability is still the name of the game, with engineers crafting Aerolite products with lower profiles, lower center of gravities and rubber torsion axles for a smoother ride. And the axles are positioned to maintain an ideal hitch/axle weight-distribution ratio so that lightweight trucks and modest-size SUVs are able to handle the towing chores.
Dutchmen: 574/534-1224; aero-rv.co.
A-Liner Cabin A FBR
A-Liner produced waifish, unorthodox-looking travel trailers long before the movement to low weights and unconventional looks became somewhat mainstream. The company still turns heads with its unusual designs, whether it comes in the form of its A-frame units or products such as its brand new FBR hard-sided trailer.
At 24 feet in length, the FBR stands as one of the company’s biggest trailers ever. Of course, staying slim remains a cinch for this RV trailer, with a dry weight just over 2300 pounds. Interior height manages to reach 6 feet, 6 inches, making the FBR more than competitive with most towables in this size range.
A-Liner’s philosophy of a modest list of standard features remains, as well as the idea that buyers will outfit their unit in their own unique way. Standard offerings do include a galley with a four-cubic-foot refrigerator, three-burner range and stainless steel sink, as well as a full bathroom and shower.
Rear stabilizer jacks, 11-foot awning, exterior storage box, 16,000-BTU heater, 10,500-BTU air conditioner, and 25-amp power converter round out the list of factory installed extras.
A-Liner: 724/423-7440; aliner.com.
Fleetwood Orbit 240BH
Fleetwood’s successful Orbit line is the ultimate family towable complete with all the bells and whistles that make buyers swoon, but without overdoing it and ending up at a price that’s difficult to digest. The 240BH (as in “bunk house”) is arguably the most friendly floorplan of the bunch.
Start with those rear bunk beds, which impact life onboard in two significant ways. First, the beds are as far away from the grown-ups in the front master bedroom as you can get. Secondly, and most importantly, have you ever met a kid who didn’t enjoy a bunk bed? Me neither. This is good news considering stacked bunks take up half the space. A 40×74-inch second bed is there to catch any passenger overflow. A full bathroom/shower finishes off the Orbit’s rear area.
Attention should also be directed toward the Orbit’s stylish exterior, with such niceties as an integrated front LPG tank cover, rear spoiler, full-length body skirting and a smooth fiberglass finish.
Fleetwood RV: 800/322-8216; fleetwoodrv.com.
Airstream Bambi Quiksilver Edition
We love Airstream for its classic look, namely the riveted aluminum exterior that’s made the company an icon of both design and, dare we say, Americana. And while no one expects — or probably even wants — a diversion from their way of doing things, Airstream isn’t above incorporating some new design elements into its classic Bambi trailer.
With its limited edition Quiksilver trim package, the 16-foot, 7-inch Bambi hopes to lure a whole new demographic by partnering with the long-time surfing and beachwear giant of the same name. Designers got to work crafting an interior inspired by the surf; not only is the Quiksilver insignia seen, but curtains feature Hawaiian prints, the dinette table is covered by a world map (looking for the next big wave, perhaps), and special lighting and custom cabinet hardware give the inside a fun, youthful vibe. Hey, there’s even enough storage to handle a surfboard and other sports gear. The rest of the interior follows the traditional Bambi floorplan, which consists of a wet bath, small galley, 48×78-inch bed, full dinette and pair of interior hampers.
Airstream: 937/596-6111; airstream.com.
Coachmen Spirit of America
With a number of new floorplans, standards and color décors, the Spirit of America model from Coachmen has been rekindled for buyers in the market for a mid- to larger-sized travel trailer. Knowing that growing families are the bread and butter of this towable segment, Coachmen now delivers nine bunkhouse floorplans. You got kids, and they love bunk beds. It’s a perfect fit. A host of changes grace the inside, ranging from three new interior color schemes and décors, as well as a switch to oak cabinetry. Standard features include a 5.1 Dolby Surround sound system, patio awning, 13,500-BTU ducted roof air conditioner, microwave oven and a host of other pleasing creature comforts.
Coachmen: 574/825-5821; coachmenrv.com.
Holiday Rambler Savoy SL
A 32-foot fifth-wheel with an extra-wide slide-out room at just a smidge over 10,000 pounds? Who would-a thunk it? Well, Holiday Rambler did, and the 2006 Savoy line offers 11 floorplans (six fifth-wheels, five travel trailers) in just about every imaginable layout. Front or rear bedrooms (how about two bedrooms?); single or double bunk beds; front, middle or rear living rooms; full coach-wide baths and kitchens, you name it. Think of it as your towable, your way.
And being a Holiday Rambler product, you know all the luxuries of RV living are fully present, such as a laundry hamper, hitch and trunk lights, deep double sink, 30,000-BTU furnace with in-floor heating systems, 13,500-BTU rooftop air conditioner, padded valances and drapes, awnings, front and rear stabilizer jacks, and a ton of places to stow your gear.
Monaco Coach: 877/466-6226; holidayrambler.com.
SunnyBrook Sunset Creek
The Sunset Creek is not a showy towable, but rather one that aims to provide the necessities of RV travel at a digestible price. A close examination of the five floorplans (29 feet, 8 inches to 33 feet, 6 inches) shows SunnyBrook designers covered the virtual gamut of room configurations. Floorplan options include a front master bedroom and rear coach-wide bathroom (279RB), a tandem of oversized rear bunk beds (298BH), rear master bedroom and front oversize kitchen lined with overhead cabinetry (272FK), or a model featuring a rear living room, capped off with a pair of lounge chairs (267RL). The 270BH, the only floorplan without a dinette/sofa slide-out, offers a double rear bed with overhead bunk bed, bathroom, inward facing sofa in the middle of the coach and front queen.
All GVWRs sit at 10,000 pounds, with each model including large and heated holding tanks (60-gallon fresh, 41-gallon gray and black), exterior lights, ducted floor heat, awning, underbed storage, mini blinds, AM/FM/CD stereo and E-Z winterizing system.
SunnyBrook: 574/825-5250; sunnybrookrv.com.
Jayco Jay Feather EXP 23B
Life onboard can sometimes be cramped when manufacturers try to pack too much into too little. Jayco walks that fine line admirably with its new 23B, providing a host of conveniences in a novel floorplan.
All Jay Feather EXP models come equipped with a Customer Value Package, which includes standards such as a 13,500-BTU air conditioner, patio awning, ABS shower tub, oversized oven, exterior shower, CD stereo and speakers, microwave and stabilizer jacks with sand pads. And since organization can so easily dissolve when camping with a larger crew, we can’t help but applaud the addition of the MaxiStor outside storage system and the removable plastic tubs inside the kitchen cabinetry.
Overhead cabinets, a pair of wardrobes and a pantry offer plenty of interior storage. In addition to the double and queen-size beds found onboard, the 23B model delivers a U-shaped dinette, as well as a J-shaped sofa and full bathroom and shower.
Jayco: 800/RV-JAYCO; jayco.com.
McKenzie Starwood SL
The Starwood travel trailer and fifth-wheel line continues to make headway in the competitive towable marketplace. With GVWRs of 10,100 pounds, all 11 models, including the new 29RES and 30RKS, still fall into this modest-weight category.
Fifth-wheel models all begin with a front bedroom/bathroom, but appeal to different demographics with a host of floorplans from there. Choose from a double slide-out (27RKD), rear bunks (30RKS), or sizable rear living space (29RES), among others. Starwood travel trailer designs are even more dynamic. For instance, how does a pair of rear bunks sound (30CKS), or perhaps a rear queen-size bedroom (29FKS), rear storage (29BHS), or rear kitchen or living space (28RKS and 29CKS, respectively)?
MSRP: Starting at $25,000
Monaco Coach: 877/466-6226; mckenzierv.com.
Keystone Zeppelin II Z303
Already a top seller in the fifth-wheel market, Keystone hopes to gain similar notoriety as a producer of lightweight towables. The company’s first effort was the successful Zeppelin line, followed by the Zeppelin II. This year’s big news is the Z303 floorplan, the 10th in the series.
Its 7000-pound GVWR allows the Zeppelin II to maintain its lightweight status, although it’s no lightweight in terms of what it provides for growing families. A pair of perpendicular bunk beds should finally settle the squabbles over who sleeps where. Obviously, the front queen-sized bed is reserved for the parents, with a mid-coach sofa bed and convertible dinette (as part of a 30-inch-deep slide-out room) enlisted to bring the unit’s overall sleep count to as many as eight or 10 passengers. The kitchen area is appointed with a pair of bar stools. Exterior pass-through storage should help eliminate some packing decisions.
MSRP: Not available at press time
Keystone RV: 574/535-2100; keystone-zeppelin.com.
Thor California Summit 26RB
The Summit line of travel trailers from Thor California offers trailer campers an outstanding value. With four models ranging from 22 feet, 2 inches to 28 feet, 7 inches in overall exterior length, there’s something for everyone. And with the largest of the group having a GVWR of 6500 pounds, the mid-size or full-size SUV in your driveway should be able to handle it with no trouble.
The Summit line offers laminated aluminum frame sidewalls with a durable fiberglass exterior. The 26RB model is our pick of the litter: It offers a rear galley and bath, with a convertible dinette across the aisle from the galley, and a rear-facing convertible sofa positioned at the front of the living area. A queen-size bed fills the private front master bedroom. This trailer is loaded with all kinds of standard features that some would consider options.
Thor California: 951/697-4190; thorca.com.