The purchase of a new fifth-wheel trailer, particularly one that is ostensibly designed for full-time and/or luxury living, is not one to be taken lightly. Besides the monetary investment, which can easily eclipse the $100,000 mark, there is so much more to consider. Construction details, floorplan, storage space and tank capacities are always important — but when you plan to live in the fifth-wheel seasonally or full time, there are even more things to think about. Furniture, flooring, cabinetry and residential details, which may be somewhat lower in priority in a weekend trailer, become increasingly important when you’re spending a lot of time in a fifth-wheel.
There are a lot of fifth-wheels on the market that lay claim to long-term/full-time capability; in some cases, that amounts to a big storage bay, larger holding tanks and high-capacity LP-gas cylinders — but not much more. Clearly, there’s more to it than that, but in the battle to keep price points competitive, some manufacturers forsake the smaller, important details that can make a big difference in the long run; Redwood RV does not.
A subsidiary of Thor Industries, this Syracuse, Indiana-based company is unique in that it builds fifth-wheel trailers exclusively and manufactures its own Falcon-branded products, including the frame, pin box, axles, suspension, auto-leveling system, steps and slideouts. That’s not only advantageous for quality control, it’s also important at the service level when the customer or dealer needs parts or answers to technical questions. Redwood also makes standard many features such as six-point leveling jacks, 50-amp service and a 12-gallon water heater, plus an external docking station with an exterior shower, winterization valve and water filtration system in one tidily packaged area.
Redwood’s product line consists of a total of nine floorplans ranging from 31 to 40 feet, offered with a variety of options. Our test trailer was the popular 36-foot RW36RL, a three-slideout floorplan equipped with some pretty substantial options, including full-body paint ($11,016); a Parks Package ($4,331) with 40-inch LCD TV and LG Home Theater system, dual recliners, bedroom TV, satellite pre-wire, halogen lighting, keyless entry, Carefree electric awning, 60-by-80-inch queen memory foam pillow-top mattress and more; and a Full-Time Living Package ($6,629) that includes flush-mount frameless windows, aluminum wheels, roller day/night shades, washer/dryer prep and more. In addition, Redwood offers a number of stand-alone options we’ll point out as we go along.
Because this fifth-wheel is really designed for the RV park lifestyle (although it can be equipped with an Onan 5.5 Marquis Gold generator), we called upon our friends at Outdoor Resort Palm Springs to help us locate an unoccupied space to test livability. With the trailer parked in a beautiful lot against the scenic backdrop of the resort’s 27-hole golf course, we proceeded to discover what it’s like to live in a Redwood fifth-wheel.
Walking into the trailer, we were greeted by an expansive kitchen area that rivals many small homes in terms of equipment, storage space and overall layout. In addition to appliances like a convection microwave ($473), upgraded 12-cubic-foot side-by-side refrigerator with icemaker ($3,194), three-burner stove and even a drawer-type dishwasher ($1,391), the kitchen was equipped with thoughtful details like a pull-out trash can, plate drawer, space rack and a huge pantry with pull-out shelves and roller bearing glides. The large island offers an abundance of counterspace, and features 120-volt AC outlets at both ends, an oversized stainless-steel sink and a high-rise faucet with pull-out spray hose. Solid surface countertops are standard, but ours was equipped with the optional quartz countertops ($1,741) that, frankly, we could live without. They look beautiful, but the sink/stove covers are very heavy and somewhat awkward to stow. Unless you appreciate looks over functionality, this is one place where we’d elect to save some money.
The living area is well-appointed for lounging and entertaining, with an 80-inch sofa bed ($551), and dual recliners located across from an optional 5,100-Btu electric fireplace ($788) and the aforementioned 40-inch LCD TV. It’s a cozy setup, but in warmer climes, we’d probably go with the standard pull-out desk arrangement. The Godiva décor drew high marks and matched beautifully with the Blonde Cherry cabinets, which were numerous and seemed to be of good build quality. We found the furniture to be well made and very comfortable — the only small exception being the free-standing dinette, which had a large metal bracket underneath that taller guests may bump their knees against. Overall, we were very pleased with the living area, and would highly recommend the optional central vac system ($315), which makes housekeeping more convenient.
Heading up the stairs to the bedroom area, we discovered both pluses and minuses. On the plus side, there’s a huge cedar-lined “Diva Closet” with shoe rack and nicely designed opaque glass/wooden doors, plus a chest of drawers with plenty of room for folded clothes. The streetside washer/dryer closet is big enough to also hold additional clothes and household items (brooms, mops and the like), so there’s no shortage of storage space. We found the queen bed to be comfortable, and the placement of the windows was perfect for both ventilation and views.
This particular floorplan locates the porcelain foot-flush toilet, shower, linen closet and lav in one room, with an arrangement that allows access from both the living and bedroom areas. The room is well configured, the shower roomy and the fixtures high-end, but the main drawback of this layout is that there’s little space to walk around the bed, and with the bedroom door open, there’s nearly no space. We also tend to prefer having the shower separate from the toilet and lav, but this is personal preference.
One detail we think was neglected are the switches throughout the RW36RL trailer — they were neither intuitively placed, nor labeled for easy use. We would also appreciate a more legible systems indicator, and a switch for the water pump inside the bathroom.
From a utility aspect, Redwood has dotted its i’s and crossed its t’s. The outside forward storage area is huge, well lighted and accessible from both sides and the front of the trailer. A nice touch here is a small shelf with netting to keep smaller items from intermingling with the larger ones. It’s a small detail, but one that makes living with the trailer easier. We also liked the pull-out shelves for the dual LP-gas cylinders and the battery.
Honestly, it’s easy for anyone to nitpick, but we found very little not to like on this Redwood. It certainly has the elements to make long-term living in a fifth-wheel comfortable.