The venerable Mallard travel trailer offers family-friendly features at an affordable price
The Mallard is a migratory duck that brings to mind images of the outdoors, like beautiful lakes and mountains, plaid flannels and camping. It is in the shadow of those images that the Mallard name has existed as a travel-trailer builder since 1952 and carries on today as a division of Thor’s Heartland RV.
We had an opportunity to take a close-up look at a 2017 Mallard M26 at Happy Traveler RV Park in Thonotosassa, Florida, a 224-site, full-featured Good Sam Park situated in a heavily shaded grove.
Sold exclusively at Camping World, the 32-foot M26 is a single-slide, ultralight travel trailer with rear-corner bunks, a rear-corner bath with a shower/tub, and a front master bedroom. The trailer’s amenities are designed to cater to six to eight family members.
Entering the M26 reveals classy decor with light-colored walls and dark accents and upholstery. The gray vinyl-plank flooring is attractive and covers the whole floor sans the slideout, which has tan and gray carpeting. Care of either is easy with the optional central-vacuum system, and vinyl floors are all the rage, especially for families, because of their wear resistance and easy cleaning.
The slideout contains the standard dinette with a freestanding table, which is a nice feature. The table can be moved outside or even around the kitchen for extra prep space. The legs fold up, and the table sits on the bench-seat supports to create a bed for one tall adult or a couple of kids. Next to the dinette is a Thomas Payne sofa bed clad in a soft PolyHyde vinyl.
Toward the front of the trailer in the living area is an island entertainment center with a Furrion 12-volt DC AM/FM/DVD radio with speakers and connections for an owner-supplied wall-mount flat-screen TV. The TV cabinet spins around for convenient viewing in the master bedroom. Above the TV is a storage cabinet with mirrored lift-up doors. Below is an open space for electronic gear and another closed storage cabinet on the bottom.
The L-shaped kitchen is open and nicely equipped. It features a glass-topped Suburban range and a double-bowl sink with a gooseneck faucet and pull-out sprayer. Counter space is adequate, and, as mentioned, the dinette table can be pulled over if needed. At the end of the counter is a drawer pack, and there’s more storage under the sink base. The space has plenty of LED lighting, and receptacles are adequate. Above the range are a vent hood and a High Pointe microwave oven. The kitchen is equipped with a Dometic DM2652 6-cubic-foot refrigerator and freezer next to a pantry and wardrobe cabinet that houses the central-vacuum system and 55-amp converter.
The master bedroom has a 74-inch queen bed tucked snugly between the front wall and the entertainment-island wall. Each side has an electrical receptacle and LED reading lights. The bed lifts for storage and is flanked by large bedside tables with cubbies underneath. Shirt wardrobes are above on both sides, along with a cross-bed upper cabinet, all with mirrored doors.
Moving to the rear, large bunk beds occupy one corner, with a nice storage cabinet below the bottom bunk. On the opposite side is the bathroom, which has plenty of space for even a 6-footer. The pedestal sink is on the tight side with no storage underneath. There is a vanity cabinet but no place to store towels, toilet paper or other necessities. The tub and shower are compact but with a skylight above, so, again, a 6-footer can get clean adequately. The tub is ideal for kids, and there is plenty of floor space for toweling off.
Comfort throughout the trailer is maintained by the standard 15,000-Btu dual-ducted air conditioner and 30,000-Btu furnace.
The exterior of the Mallard M26 is sharp looking with bright-white fiberglass side walls set off by black trim and a gloss-black fiberglass front cap. Gloss-black diamond plate adorns the lower section of the front, with a light fixture attached on the curb side at the frame level to make nighttime hitching duties easier. On the street side is the Furrion solar-charge connection. The A-frame houses two 5-gallon LP-gas cylinders, a battery and a manual jack. While we would love to see 7-gallon cylinders and a power jack, these are easy upgrades at the time of purchase.
Construction of the body of the trailer is sturdy, with a 2-inch laminated, aluminum-framed floor and fiberglass-clad side walls, and a 4-inch vacuum-bonded, fully walkable rubber-clad roof, although the M26 doesn’t have a roof ladder as an option.
The curb side features an electric awning with an LED light strip, a porch light, AC-power receptacles, a freshwater fill, and the furnace access port and exhaust. There are outside speakers for the stereo system but no outside TV connection on this model; again, that can easily be added, should the owner desire to watch TV out under the awning.
Toward the rear of the trailer, the M26 features Heartland’s Outdoor Party Center, an exterior kitchen that contains a small bar refrigerator, a two-burner LP-gas cooktop and a full-bar sink, plus some usable counter space for prep.
The LP-gas quick-connection under the trailer is useful for the cooktop or a barbecue grill. We had some difficulty connecting and disconnecting the hose from the cooktop, as the hose is separate, and no clearance was left to access the connection on the cooktop, requiring us to remove the cooktop to connect it. This would be easily rectified during a predelivery inspection at the dealership, however.
Both outside compartments feature radius slam-latch doors with paddle-style locks and magnetic holdups, which are welcome additions.
The utility connections are standard, with a twist-on 30-amp cord set, cable TV, city water and black-tank flush all on the street side behind the slideout. The sanitary connections are tucked out of the way to prevent damage, although they can be a little hard to reach.
The trailer is built on a Lippert chassis and features the Wide Trax trailer suspension with 15-inch aluminum rims and a power stabilizer jack system, front and rear, operable from the front compartment on the curb side, which we felt was a welcome option, making camp setup much easier.
All in all, the 2017 Mallard M-26 is a family-friendly bunkhouse for summertime weekend getaways and vacations, and, with an MSRP of $26,496, it’s a great value.
Heartland Recreational Vehicles
*Provided by Heartland Recreational Vehicles
Chris Dougherty is technical editor of Trailer Life and MotorHome. Chris is an RVDA/RVIA certified technician and lifelong RVer, including 10 years as a full-timer. He and his wife make their home in Massachusetts and hit the road with their travel trailer every chance they get.