2016 survey of all things RV reveals readers’ field-tested favorites
When it comes to RVing, Trailer Life readers are the experts. You came up with your favorite products and places after years of trial and error. That’s why we turned to you when we wanted to know who offers the best of the best. Capitalizing on your collective expertise, we launched the annual Trailer Life Readers’ Choice Awards in 2012 with categories for RVs, tow vehicles and nearly everything that goes with them. From the top trucks and travel trailers to the most reliable awnings and batteries, these are the brands and businesses that have earned your trust. After three months of voting, the results of the fifth-annual online poll are in and ready for the big reveal. Without further ado, here are the gold, silver and bronze awards for 2016, readers’ tried-and-true favorites.
Gold: Forest River
One the largest RV manufacturers, Forest River has a broad corporate umbrella that covers the Cherokee, Evo, Flagstaff, Salem, Sonoma, Survey, Rockwood, r-Pod, Wildcat, Wildwood and Vibe travel trailer brands. The official Forest River Owners’ Group, also known as FROG, enhances the RV-ownership experience with seminars, service and six nights of camping each summer at Indiana’s Elkhart County fairgrounds.
Gold: Grand Design
With a reputation for customer satisfaction, Grand Design builds Reflection and Solitude fifth-wheel trailers, and Momentum fifth-wheel toy haulers, in addition to two lines of travel trailers. In the four years since Grand Design launched, it has become one of the fastest-growing RV manufacturers, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by Winnebago Industries. In late 2016 the iconic motorhome company announced a deal to purchase Grand Design and expand its towable offerings.
574-825-9679 | www.granddesignrv.com
Founded nearly 50 years ago by Lloyd Bontrager on his Indiana farm, Jayco hit the big time in 2016 when the company produced its millionth RV and partnered with giant Thor Industries. Despite Jayco’s impressive success, the brand continues to produce a line of modest folding trailers, just as it did back in 1968. Four floor plans in the Jayco Jay Sport series are available for 2017, weighing as little as 1,500 pounds and backed by a two-year limited warranty.
574-825-5861 | www.jayco.com/products/camping-trailers
Lance has been in the business of building truck campers since 1965 with an emphasis on innovation and durability. In recent years, Lance has added lightweight travel trailers and toy haulers to its lineup. The company rolls out the red carpet for its dedicated owners club, Lance Owners of America, at its factory in Lancaster, California.
661-949-3322 | www.lancecamper.com/truck-campers
TRUCK FOR TOWING
It was good news for RV-trailer enthusiasts when Ford switched to an aluminum-alloy body on the F-150 two years ago. The lighter, more capable F-150 was so well received that Ford went all out on the 2017 Super Duty, introducing an aluminum body with beefed up components and best-in-class towing performance.
800-392-3673 | www.ford.com/trucks
A worldwide manufacturer of products for recreational vehicles, Dometic supplies awnings, slide toppers and add-on screen rooms among its broad range of RV offerings. Recent innovations range from LED lighting and power connections on awning roller tubes to sensors that retract shades automatically in high winds.
800-544-4881 | www.dometic.com/usa
Gold: Interstate Batteries
Founded in Dallas in 1952, Interstate makes an array of automotive batteries and electric-power suppliers, including 6-volt deep-cycle house batteries, 12-volt starting/house batteries and sealed AGM dual-purpose batteries for use in recreational vehicles.
866-842-5368 | www.interstatebatteries.com
RV CLEANING PRODUCT
Gold: Protect All
ProtectAll’s namesake all-surface cleaner tops the company’s extensive lineup of RV-care products.
800-322-4491 | www.protectall.com
ADCO specializes in covers for RVs and RV tires, windshields, side-view mirrors, LP-gas cylinders and rear bike racks.
800-541-2326 | www.adcoprod.com
RV ENGINE OIL
Gold: Shell Rotella
Developed by Shell, Rotella heavy-duty engine lubricants include straight grade, full synthetic and synthetic blends. Rotella T4 and T5 meet the new API CK-4 diesel engine oil standards.
888-467-4355 | www.rotella.com
800-965-5695 | www.amsoil.com
Bronze: Mobil 1
RV FUEL ADDITIVE
Gold: Lucas Oil Products
Easy to find on the shelves of auto-part stores and discount retail chains, Lucas Oil additives, lubricants and utility treatments include products designed to boost performance and fuel economy.
800-342-2512 | www.lucasoil.com
Honda is a leading supplier of lightweight and quiet portable generators. Its popular 2,000-watt generators run for hours without refueling and provide consistent electrical current.
770-497-6400 | www.powerequipment.honda.com/generators
RV HOLDING-TANK CHEMICALS
hetford is the number-one supplier of sanitation products for the RV market. Aqua-Kem, the top-selling holding-tank deodorant, comes in liquid, granular and toss-in forms.
800-543-1219 | www.thetford.com
RV PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING PRODUCT
Gold: Banks Power
Banks Power has been in the business of maximizing engine performance for five decades. For trailer towing, the company offers emissions-legal tuning devices and intake-and-exhaust airflow systems intended to improve horsepower, torque and fuel mileage.
800-601-8072 | www.bankspower.com
Designed for RV use, Dometic refrigerators are built to withstand the rigors of road travel. The company’s essential kitchen appliances come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from double-door built-ins to freestanding fridges and even six-bottle wine chillers.
800-544-4881 | www.dometic.com/usa
RV SATELLITE HARDWARE
Winegard’s RV antennas and portable satellite systems take the TV-viewing experience far from home. A good choice for RVers with multiple TVs, Winegard’s Trav’ler automatic roof-top antenna works with satellite-TV providers Dish, DirecTV and Shaw Direct.
800-472-1039 | www.winegard.com
RV SATELLITE PROVIDER
Dish offers equipment and programming so RVers can watch HDTV almost anywhere they roam. The Pay-As-You-Go option lets RVers pay for only the months of satellite-TV service they need with no long-term contract.
855-398-8011 | www.dishformyrv.com
Although Michelin doesn’t manufacture ST tires for trailers, it does make a variety of tires that are suitable for RVs and tow vehicles, including XPS Rib LT tires, a popular ST replacement.
866-866-6605 | www.michelinrvtires.com
TIRE-PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM
Minder Research’s TireMinder monitors up to 22 sensors, keeping tabs on air pressure and temperature in trailer and tow-vehicle tires, and alerting drivers with visual and audible alarms. The new TireMinder Smart TPMS lets users check tires from smartphones.
Thetford markets RV toilets with the brand names Aria and Aqua-Magic. Constructed of sturdy plastic or homelike china, with high or low profiles and hand or foot flushing mechanisms, the toilets provide a reliable flush without wasting water. In addition to having a reputation for trouble-free service, Thetford’s indispensable bathroom fixtures are known for their comfort and style.
800-543-1219 | www.thetford.com/products/toilets/rv-toilets
TRAVEL TRAILER HITCH
Built by Progress Manufacturing,
the Equal-i-zer hitch combines weight distribution with sway control to minimize problems caused by passing vehicles, crosswinds and other towing hazards. The hitch relies on spring-bar tension and is particularly effective on trailers with relatively high hitch weights.
800-478-5578 | www.equalizerhitch.com
B&W Trailer Hitches introduced its first Turnoverball hitch nearly 30 years ago and has been bringing innovative towing solutions to the market ever since. A family-owned business based in Kansas, B&W makes the popular rail-mounted Patriot and under-bed Companion fifth-wheel hitches in stationary and sliding models. The Companion hitch also fits Ford, GM
and Ram puck systems.
800-810-4918 | www.turnoverball.com/products/fifth-wheel-towing
TRUCK BED LINER
One of the leading providers of spray-
on coatings, Line-X applies fast-curing truck-bed liners that bond permanently and offer tough protection. Installed by professional technicians at more than 400 franchises, the long-lasting bed liners come in a variety of colors and carry a lifetime warranty.
877-330-1331 | www.linex.com
Gold: Pala Casino RV Resort Pala, California
Southern California’s Pala RV Resort opened its gates last May with 100 full-hookup RV campsites up to 70 feet long. The new 100-acre RV resort scored a perfect 10/10H/10 Good Sam rating and is a shuttle ride away from the 2016 RV Casino Resort gold-award winner.
844-472-5278 | www.palacasino.com/resort/rv-resort
RV CASINO RESORT
Gold: Pala Casino Spa and Resort, Pala, California
With 2,000 slot machines and 97 table games, Pala is not only a state-of-the-art casino with an adjacent RV resort, it’s also one of the top-10 spas in the casino industry, according to Spas of America. Pala’s year-round entertainment lineup and many restaurant choices rival the Las Vegas competition.
877-946-7252 | www.palacasino.com
Gold: Pilot Flying J
Pilot Flying J sets out the welcome mat for RV travelers at more than 650 travel plazas across North America with overnight parking, dump stations and LP-gas refills, along with designated RV-fueling lanes at some locations and certified truck scales. Clean restrooms, hot showers and popular fast-food options are a bonus.
877-866-7378 | www.pilotflyingj.com/rv-services
Gold: Camping World
After celebrating its golden anniversary in 2016, America’s largest retailer of RV supplies, accessories and new and used RVs is busy stocking its shelves for the next 50 years. Founded and based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the company invites RVers and other outdoor enthusiasts to visit 120 con-veniently located Camping World
SuperCenters and browse thousands of items for sale on its website.
888-626-7576 | www.campingworld.com
Silver: Local Dealers
800-925-6278 | www.walmart.com
Gold: Cracker Barrel
Offering a warm welcome to RVers since 1969, the chain of 641 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurants and gift shops dishes up soothing comfort food and down-home Southern hospitality in 43 states.
800-333-9566 | www.crackerbarrel.com
STATE TO RV IN
From the Columbia Gorge to the Pacific Ocean, and Multnomah Falls to Mount Hood, Oregon is a scenic and recreational paradise. Friendly locals make RVers feel right at home, and the state’s abundance of RV parks ensures happy camping. The Travel Oregon website provides an RV-park search tool, along with trip ideas and information about attractions, events and the outdoors.
800-547-7842 | www.traveloregon.com