Winds of Change: Wind River and Toyota Tundra

Anytime a new trailer manufacturer emerges, we take notice – especially given today’s
economic climate. These days, it’s a bold move for the new guy to attempt to carve a niche
in an already crowded market. But Outdoors RV Manufacturing isn’t worried about first-day
jitters or trying to fit in, and with good reason. Outdoors is run by Ron and Sherry Nash,
owners of Northwood Manufacturing, which has been a fixture in the towable market for more
than a decade. Add to that the fact that many of the employees of Outdoors Manufacturing
are former Fleetwood RV staffers and were hired after Fleetwood exited the towable market,
and you have a solid workforce with literally decades of experience. The results combine
the all-season know-how of Northwoods with user-friendly floorplans.

At its core, the
primary focus of Outdoors RV is to build all-weather trailers for the Northwest and Western
Canadian RVer, but the benefits of such construction methods can certainly be realized
nationwide.

The Wind River line is pegged as Outdoors’ luxury lightweight towable, which
made it a great fit – both weight-wise and probable customer-wise – for the 2010 Toyota
Tundra 4 x 4 Limited Crewmax.

Hitched up and on the road, the combo looks great. Toyota’s
billet-style grille, fender flares and pronounced arches over the 18-inch alloy wheels make
the truck easy on the eyes, and the Silver Sky metallic paint is a nice departure from the
blacks or whites we so often see. The optional bedliner ($365) and mini tie-downs ($45)
help the truck retain its value as a commuter and rather capable work truck (in fact, the
2010 Tundra is also offered with a Work Truck trim).

 

Inside, the Tundra offers the latest
in entertainment/safety technology, with Bluetooth cell-phone capability in the optional
DVD Navigation system ($1,690), which includes AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-disc changer, 12 speakers,
a back-up monitor, satellite radio and an aux/USB input for even more versatility.

The
Tundra features a cavernous center console designed to hold a laptop computer or a hanging
file folder for tourist attraction brochures and other paperwork needing organization. The
Tundra’s cockpit features two 12-volt DC power outlets, with a third for good measure
located at the rear of the console. Various compartments and niches ensure there’s plenty
of room for instruction manuals and the like.

But the Tundra is more than just a fancy
looking truck with electronic adornments. On the road, the 5.7-liter V-8 had no problem
towing the Wind River. We made our way up the usual 7-percent grade with relative ease, and
had plenty of power on tap had we been in a hurry and needed to utilize the passing lane
(we weren’t, so we didn’t).

Braking on the Tundra was smooth and trouble-free, thanks to
the ABS system and Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), which optimizes brake
pressure at each wheel for greater control. Especially impressive are the Automatic
Limited-Slip Differential and Vehicle Stability Control systems as standard equipment, a
first-in-class feature.

Towing hardware on the Tundra includes a hitch receiver, a
supplemental transmission cooler, a rear differential with 10.5-inch ring gear, a 150-amp
alternator, transmission temperature gauge, a seven-pin connector and
trailer-brake-controller pre-wiring.

Déjà vu?

If you think you’ve seen the Wind River somewhere before, well, you have. The Wind River
250 RLS is a derivative of Fleetwood’s former Prowler floorplan; only this time around it’s
been refined to better suit the year-round RVer.

Outdoors RV knows its customers well, so
in addition to four-season capabilities, the manufacturer has built the Wind River with
back-roads capabilities in mind. The fiberglass front cap ($555) features bold graphics
that match well with the trailer’s overall attitude – while offering added protection from
rocks and tree branches. The Wind River is built on what Outdoors calls a shock-absorbing
rubberized suspension system featuring increased ground clearance and copper plumbing
lines. The 15-inch aluminum wheels ($338) ensure most any road can be conquered by the
trailer – well, most any road you’d want to take a $30,000 trailer on, anyway. Pass-through
storage compartments sized just right for a cooler (or anything else big and bulky) mean
you don’t have to leave behind too many supplies.

 

As aggressive as it is on the outside, I
certainly didn’t expect the luxury appointments that await on the inside after a long day
of travel. At the rear of the trailer, two lounge recliners ($578) offer a comfy, if
slightly cramped, spot to put your feet up. Yet doing so makes use of the rear door nearly
impossible, so users may opt to sit on the sofa bed ($495) or even at the convertible
dinette located in the streetside slide while resting their bones.

With that slide
deployed, there is an impressive amount of room to stretch out in the living area. The
slide also reveals a 26-inch LCD HDTV, in addition to an AM/FM/CD/DVD player.

The cabinetry
throughout the trailer is impressive, as the doors and panels are made of real wood that is
screwed together – rather than stapled particleboard. This durable construction technique
is doubly important, considering Outdoors’ intentions for the Wind River to be taken off
the beaten path.

 

The open floorplan in the living area leads to a relatively open cooking
experience, as we had no issues of stepping over each other while preparing meals (with the
exception of a crawling infant, that is). The standard layout of the galley facilitated
quick and efficient prepping duties, and the three-burner stove with oven, microwave and 8
cubic-foot refrigerator were all put to good use. A flip-up counter extender was a welcome
addition, and a drawer beneath the oven was ideal for pots and pans. Vinyl-type flooring
makes clean-up a breeze.

Pantry space was adequate but not ideal, yet we were able to
utilize the overhead storage located throughout the unit for non-perishables we couldn’t
fit behind the frosted-glass pantry doors.

The bathroom was functional enough, with a
shower/small tub enclosure we found ideal for bathing a baby. Other bathroom duties were
handled with no complaints about arm/headroom.

Once exiting the bathroom, users will have
to watch out for the TV if it’s been extended away from the wall; the lavy door came mighty
close to an expensive collision a few times during our trip, as did a certain tester’s
forehead.

The master bedroom features a pillow-top queen-size mattress, and the custom
headboard was a nice touch of elegance. The residential-size wardrobe located curbside is
sure to swallow your RVing garb, and a shirt-hanging closet/night stand are available
streetside. A second entry door offers a quick way in and out of the master area if you
don’t want to disturb the kids in the living area.

The cargo carrying capacity of the Wind
River we tested limits loading; however, traveling with the freshwater tank empty nudges
that number to just beneath 1,000 pounds. Either way, be careful not to overload the Wind
River.

 

The Wind River packs quite a bit of luxury in a relatively small frame, while the
Tundra Limited shares that same strategy in a mid-size pickup offering plenty of power. The
Tundra’s 4WD capabilities are also well suited to the rugged exterior design of the Wind
River. Together they make a solid all-season, on- or off-pavement combination.

Outdoors RV
Manufacturing, (541) 624-5500, www.outdoorsrvmfg.com.

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