Coachmen Apex 288BHS: Lean and Green
May 13, 2013
Filed under Trailer Reviews
For nearly 50 years, Coachmen Industries has been building some of the nation’s most recognizable RVs. The first Coachmen RVs were manufactured in a small 5,000-square-foot facility in downtown Middlebury, Indiana. Since then, Coachman — now a Forest River brand — has manufactured more than 600,000 RVs.
Coachmen’s new Apex travel trailers represent a slight shift in the manufacturer’s focus: The company has traded its usual lauan substrate construction for Azdel Superlite, which is 50 percent lighter than wood, for use in its new laminated fiberglass side walls. This results in a durable, lightweight product that helps meet the demands of Coachmen’s discerning customers. “The ultra-light market is the fastest growing segment in the industry,” says Brittany Logan, Apex’s sales coordinator. “We have 18 floorplans less than 5,000 pounds, which makes it possible for our trailers to be towed with a half-ton or less tow vehicle.” A vacuum-bonded/aluminum caged roof, floor and walls round out the lightweight construction techniques. They all come courtesy of the mandatory Exterior Package ($3,197; it’s mandatory so you count it as part of the base price), which also includes (among other things) a laminated crowned roof, E-Z Lube axles, outside speakers and stabilizer jacks.
The 288BHS under the spotlight here features a double-bed over a double-bed bunkhouse in the rear, which — when combined with the queen up front, the 81-inch convertible dinette and optional residential sofa ($200) — ups the sleeping capacity to a robust 10 happy campers. Clearly, the Apex is designed with families in mind.
Once you’ve arrived in camp, the rear bunkhouse area can be cordoned off from the rest of the trailer by a sliding curtain, and a small ladder affords the younger (or more nimble) folk access to the top bunk. Next to the bunk area is the smallish bathroom, which doesn’t exactly invite long-term stays but offers enough room to get the job done. A separate entry from the outside allows RVers access to the lav without tracking in the inevitable dirt and grime a party of 10 would pick up on their shoes or hiking boots.
The galley is located amidships, and is exactly what you’d expect to find in a trailer of this size. The microwave, 6-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator, three-burner high-output range with oven, double-bowl sink and seamless countertops are all part of the mandatory Interior Package ($1,878). A 13,500-Btu air conditioner, AM/FM/CD stereo, skylight in the bathroom and a host of other niceties are also included.
The only slide in the 288BHS is located streetside and houses the galley and residential sofa, and really opens up the interior space, creating the feeling of a true living area. The refrigerator is located on the wall across from the prep space, which can be a bit irritating at times; but we’re only talking about a few steps, so it’s by no means a deal-breaker. The dinette is fine for a family of five (with little ones), but things would get quite a bit cramped if you were feeding all 10 of the trailer’s potential occupants. The sofa, dinette and whatever picnic table is located outside would definitely all have to be in play.
The 288BHS we tested features the Apex Elite Package ($1,414), which improves the window treatments and serves up the 24-inch LED TV and DVD player in the pillared entertainment center. The center is located at the foot of the queen bed in the master, a configuration that continues to gain popularity in today’s family friendly trailers. This makes for fine viewing from the living area (and the bedroom if equipped with a swivel), but this often means that taller RVers may have their legs cramped while trying to get a good night’s rest on the shorter queen mattress.
The aforementioned Apex Interior Package also gets buyers an Evergreen Sleep Mattress and comforter, which do their best to improve the sleeping situation. Dual wardrobes and overhead storage complete the bedroom.
Apart from being lightweight, Apex trailers are TRA gold-level rated, meaning they utilize effective production techniques along with efficient usage of energy and water to produce minimal environmental impact.
If you have a large family or a core group of friends who like to travel together, it can often be difficult to accommodate your RVing needs, especially in a lightweight trailer. The Apex has certainly addressed that problem. Though the dining and bathroom areas may be a bit snug for all those loved ones, the 288BHS offers an interesting floorplan that is sure to be a hit with RVers young and old.
Exterior Length 31’ 2”
Exterior Width 8’
Exterior Height 9’ 10” (including A/C)
Interior Height 6’ 6”
Freshwater Cap. 49 gal.
Black/Gray Water Cap. 33 gal./33 gal.
LP-Gas Cap. 10 gal.
Hitch Weight 585 lbs.
GVWR 7,000 lbs.
MSRP, base $28,021
MSRP, as tested $30,679
Coachmen RV, www.coachmenrv.com, 800-353-7383.