Taking Flight

Photographer: Shawn Spence Photography

 

The lightweight Falcon Eclipse F-21RB travel trailer packs comfort and style into a slender — and unique — profile

The falcon is an adaptable and versatile bird of prey that inhabits a wide range of areas. Known for traveling from tundra to mountains and many places in between, one of the species can metamorphose itself into a mini dive bomber and swoop for its prey at more than 200 mph. Pretty impressive. Travel Lite, manufacturer of lightweight travel trailers and slide-in campers, has taken some cues from this amazing bird with its recently debuted, sleek-looking Falcon Eclipse line with a dramatically sloped front wall designed for extreme wind cutting and partially covered in black diamond plating. Though it would be unwise to tow this trailer at anywhere near the speed of its diving namesake bird, a large falcon outline with wings spread wide graces the front wall, muted against the distinctive Matte Black aluminum exterior.

We tested an F-21RB, one of five floorplans in the Falcon line that the company claims are light enough to be towed by most SUVs and six-cylinder vehicles. Its slim body, with rugged-looking black diamond-plate fenders covering wide performance tires placed outside the trailer’s frame, rides on a single axle that is 18 inches off the ground, giving the impression that this trailer is quite adaptable and conducive to traveling far and wide.

The step-up dinette is housed in a slideout, and the window slides open for good ventilation. Cushions pictured are a leatherlike prototype Travel Lite is considering offering; our test unit had fabric-covered cushions.
The step-up dinette is housed in a slideout, and the window slides open for good ventilation. Cushions pictured are a leatherlike prototype Travel Lite is considering offering; our test unit had fabric-covered cushions.

Although its “roughing it” appearance seems to beg you to take it where no man has gone before, we headed to where a lot of people have been before — an RV park. For this outing, my sister joined me for several nights in Palm Springs, California. Sandwiched between two enormous RVs at our full-hookup site, the slender 20-foot-8-inch-long Falcon, with its steeply sloped front, looked tiny by comparison. But inside, modern design meets practicality, packing the necessities into a space that feels roomier than expected.

Utilizing a narrow-body design, the 6-foot-2-inch-wide floorplan houses a four-seater dinette/bed in a slide that opens the layout. A queen bed fits horizontally under the front wall, and a high-grade tempered-glass bathroom door adds dimension. Open the dark-tinted glass door to step into a bathroom that is large for this size trailer. The door is set at an angle next to a rounded wall by the dinette and would be a great place to hang a key hook or small coat rack.

All appliances are stainless steel and tie in well with the Falcon’s aluminum-framed tempered-glass cabinet doors. Hidden behind these doors beneath the range and sink is more storage space, including two drawers on glides. The two-burner Wedgewood Vision range has a large oval-shaped burner and a smaller round one parked close to the single-basin sink. The countertop — what little there is of it — is the same solid surface as the dinette’s tabletop.

The 5-cubic-foot refrigerator is large for this size trailer, and there’s lots of stashing room behind those dark tempered-glass doors.
The 5-cubic-foot refrigerator is large for this size trailer, and there’s lots of stashing room behind those dark tempered-glass doors.

While whipping up a breakfast of scrambled eggs with chopped veggies, we moved across to the dinette table to complete the task, since there’s no space by the range and sink to set a plate or cutting board, and no countertop extension. With the raised dinette across the aisle, it was easy to stand at the table while chopping and then drop the contents into a pan on the stove. An attractive backsplash keeps schmutz off the back wall behind the range, though it would be more practical if the backsplash covered the left wall, too. The small bit of countertop around the range and sink was kept extra clean, simply because we kept wiping it down, thinking it was wet. Turns out it was the high-gloss surface, not water! Overhead is a standard microwave.

A floor-to-ceiling set of shallow cabinets by the entry door is efficient for food storage, but we kept our food and plates in the deep cabinet below the wardrobe to the left of the range, since it was convenient to reach whatever we needed while preparing meals, plus it seemed second-nature. A 5-cubic-foot refrigerator — good capacity for this size RV (the company claims it’s the largest in this class of travel trailers) —is between the wardrobe and bed.

The ceiling-mounted Dometic air conditioner is over the aisle in the galley, cutting off an inch or two from the 6-foot 2-inch ceiling. People taller than 6 feet will have to be careful not to knock their noggins while in the galley preparing a meal or washing dishes, particularly if stepping back and forth to the table. The 13,500-Btu A/C and 18,000-Btu furnace worked quickly to cool and heat the relatively small space; within five or 10 minutes, the Falcon’s inside temperature was pleasant, and it was a treat when coming in late one cold evening.

The dinette’s seating is comfortable with thick cushions. Our test unit had black-and-white fabric-covered cushions; pictured are prototype leatherlike ones the company is considering offering at the same price. Headroom next to the window is less than when sitting on the aisle side, due to the slideout. With two legs supporting it, the table is stable. We liked the way you step up 10 inches into the dinette — it adds pizzazz, giving it a separate dining-room feel. I can also picture my big dog curled up under here, having her own space that’s out of the walkway. Under the dinette’s bench is pass-through storage to the outside that can be accessed several ways from the inside: under the bench or through the glass doors, conveniently raised off the floor in the slide.

When it was time for bed, my sister spread out on the queen bed, and I settled into the transformed dinette. Removing the two legs from the table and floor and then positioning the table between the base while at an awkward stance took a bit of wrestling, but once I was slumbering on those thick cushions, all was good. As far as width, another person my weight could have fit next to me, but I slept diagonally, since the length was a couple inches shy of my 5-foot 9-inch frame.

Before dozing off, I propped up on pillows to do some reading and discovered that there were no reading lamps. Ditto for over the queen bed. The overhead push-button LEDs are fabulous for interior lighting, but when it came to nighttime reading, we had to adjust ourselves to avoid the glaring overhead lights.

In keeping with the Eclipse theme, the queen bed is outfitted with a black comforter (reversible to gray) to match the exterior, with windows at each end (one is an emergency exit). My sister, who is my height, proclaimed the bed to be “pretty darn comfortable.” A shelf between the bed and dinette worked nicely as a nightstand. Under the bed is a 3×3-foot square storage space in the center, and the platform is held up by gas struts.

Experimenting the next day to see how the tapered ceiling would work if there were two people in bed, I found that a tall person, if relegated to the far corner, might have to do a tuck-and-roll before sitting up to avoid hitting his or her head on the ceiling. Then there’s the consideration of who should sleep next to the wall, since they would be climbing over the other person if they were up first or needed to get up during the night. An optional 19-inch HDTV/DVD ($595) can be installed over the bed with a wall-mount bracket that swings out for viewing from the dinette.

A comfortable queen bed is tucked under the front wall, and large windows at each end allow for a bright atmosphere when the sun is shining. Out of sight is a small tabletop that serves as a nightstand.
A comfortable queen bed is tucked under the front wall, and large windows at each end allow for a bright atmosphere when the sun is shining. Out of sight is a small tabletop that serves as a nightstand.

The angled glass bathroom door maximizes floor space and is open at the bottom and top. While the glass looks nice and adds depth, seeing into a bathroom doesn’t appeal to everyone. A plastic curtain adds privacy, but the one on our test unit ripped the second time we closed it. On the other hand, the bathroom feels bigger with the see-through door. There’s abundant storage in the deep cabinets over the plastic toilet.

When using the mirror while standing at the sink, which is butted up to the Falcon’s side wall, left-handers will have to get creative. I raised my left hand to put a contact lens in, and my elbow collided with the wall, somersaulting my contact lens into the sink. Shaving or combing hair while looking into the mirror for left-handers means moving away from the wall; I stepped into the shower and leaned in. Seeing from that angle was easier anyway, since the overhead lights are behind you and cast shadows, making it a little challenging to see in the mirror when no natural light flowed in through the skylight. The Fan-Tastic Vent in the bathroom worked great — in fact, when we turned it on and opened just one slider window by the bed, a nice breeze flowed around through the window where my sister was propped up reading.

Enter the good-sized bathroom at the back of the Falcon through a free-hanging dark tempered-glass door. A large skylight over the shower adds more headroom and light.
Enter the good-sized bathroom at the back of the Falcon through a free-hanging dark tempered-glass door. A large skylight over the shower adds more headroom and light.

The shower was a mixed bag — the shower pan is good-sized, yet the aluminum shower rod did not cooperate. The rod had a little play in it, tilting slightly downward at the center, though attached securely to the wall. The shower curtain would not stay flush against the wall, leaving the sides of the shower open. With the rod tilting down, too much of the curtain gathered on the floor, so I was careful not to slip on it. Additionally, the stubborn hand-held sprayer would not stay fixed in the holder; rather, it insisted on turning left, spraying where the curtain wasn’t covering, making matters worse — and wetter. I fiddled with the handle, which didn’t help, but most likely the sprayer will loosen up after a few uses and can be adjusted. Furthermore, there’s no shut-off valve and no place to hang a towel, so the “dry” bath soon became a wet bath. It would also help to have a hook-and-loop gadget on the wall to keep the shower curtain pulled back when not in use.

After mopping up the small stream that had also flowed into the aisle outside the bathroom due to the free-hanging door, we flipped on the AM/FM/CD receiver (it glows blue to match the exterior Falcon graphics) and headed outside to enjoy music through the speakers in the exterior wall. At night, the LED-illuminated entry steps, assist handle and outdoor lights glow blue as well, standing out like candles against the black Falcon. It’s subtle and adds more ambience than light — in fact, twice when walking around the RV park at night, we inadvertently passed by the trailer because, with the interior lights off, we sort of lost the Falcon in the dark.

A Dometic Sunchaser patio awning is rolled out manually and covers a lot of ground, literally. The awning serves another purpose during hot weather, depending on where the sun is, and that is to shade the door handle. Because the trailer is black aluminum, it absorbs heat, so when we went to open the entry door after the sun had been beating on it for hours, it was hot to the touch. To help fend off heat absorption, the Falcon’s roof is white. The Falcon is also available with an Alpine white exterior.

Up front is a pass-through compartment big enough to hold a couple of camp chairs. The Falcon has an electric A-frame jack, manual stabilizers in back and an outdoor shower. With the 31-gallon freshwater tank, dual 5-gallon LP-gas cylinders and two batteries mounted up front, hitch weight may be substantial for some lighter-weight tow vehicles and may require a weight-distributing hitch.

Storage under the dinette’s seating passes through to the outside and can be accessed two ways from inside. Industrial-grade linoleum flooring looks like wood plank.
Storage under the dinette’s seating passes through to the outside and can be
accessed two ways from inside. Industrial-grade linoleum flooring looks like wood plank.

One thing we noted was that we had to slam the entry door to close it. Several times after we thought we had closed it (albeit, we didn’t latch it), the door opened on its own when the wind kicked up. This feature is not conducive to letting your RV buddy or sweetheart sleep if you’re coming and going at different hours.

While towing the Falcon, with its slender profile, we could see every bit of it in the mirrors and maintained good stability. Goodyear Eagle RS-A all-season, run-flat tires likely helped with towing prowess. A plus during travel is that, when the slide is in, you can still squeeze your way to the back and partially open the refrigerator to grab a drink, and the bathroom is fully accessible.

We spent our time in an RV park, but, with the raised single axle and light weight, the trailer is fit for exploring off-road locations in compact comfort and style. Travel Lite’s Falcon, with its wind-slicing design, is like the bird of prey: adaptable and game for seeking nature’s out-of-the-way places.

Travel Lite | 855-831-3525
www.travellitecampers.com

 


 

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