October 12, 2007
Filed under Trailer Reviews
We don’t have to talk to you about fuel prices. And we’re not going to utter any four letter words (like OPEC). But it probably hasn’t escaped you that the cost of RV travel has increased, and may continue to do so. To some of you, this may not matter — but to the budget-conscious among us, it’s definitely a consideration.
If you would like something that can be towed with the family vehicle, not necessarily a full-size truck or SUV, then Dutchmen Manufacturing may have an ideal solution for you in its Eco line of ultra-light travel trailers. “We identified a large segment of customers who drive minivans or small SUVs who wanted something bigger than a tent trailer, but didn’t have the towing capacity,” says Joe Hosinski, director of marketing for Dutchmen. “So we targeted the Eco at tow vehicles with a tow rating of 3,000 pounds or less.”
Dutchmen is no stranger to the ultra-lite market; in fact, Hosinski maintains that the company invented the category back in 1996 with its Aerolite product. “We went to Europe 20 years ago and studied the market there,” he says. “They don’t have pickups and large SUVs, so their products — by design — are lightweight.”
Dutchmen’s research has found that consumers wanted three basic things in a small trailer: an enclosed bathroom, a full kitchen and adequate storage. The Eco delivers on all three fronts, according to Hosinski — and that includes even the 713FD model that weighs only 2,006 pounds. Even the largest and best-selling 718QB model pictured here tips the scales at just 2,575 pounds. “We weigh every model that comes off our line, and we apply a sticker to the unit that provides the exact weight of that unit when it leaves the factory,” says Hosinski.
The 718QB features a queen bed and overhead bunk up front, as well as a curbside dinette that converts into another bed for a total sleeping capacity of five adults. On the streetside is the galley, which features a two-burner cooktop, microwave oven and a 6-cubic-foot refrigerator. The enclosed dry bath is in the streetside corner, featuring a shower, separate toilet and a small lavatory. Aft of the entry door is a wardrobe/television stand, and a small linen closet. “We used every nook and cranny in these models to give our customers maximum storage,” says Hosinski.
In addition to the features already mentioned, the Eco comes with some pleasant surprises, such as a standard 13,500-btu roof air conditioner and a 6-gallon gas/electric water heater (DSI optional). Well-equipped for most families in base form, options are limited to an exterior barbecue, a Fan-Tastic roof vent and an exterior shower.
If the Eco doesn’t fit your needs, Hosinski says Dutchmen offers six brands that weigh 5,000 pounds or less.
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., (574) 534-1224, www.dutchmenmfg.com, www.eco-rv.com.