Riverside RV brings back the days of simple camping with its Retro line of classic-looking lightweight trailers with contemporary amenities
Remember the good old days of RVing, when nearly any vehicle could tow a trailer? It was easy for the quintessential American family to pile into that big 1960-something rolling-anchor station wagon or sedan, hitch up a relatively lightweight travel trailer and aim the duo down the in-terstate. Not much luxury, but what an adventure!
While the RV industry was just beginning to boom and grow then, a number of these spartan (by today’s standards) trailers have gone on to become classics as the industry has evolved. Trailer shapes used to range from teardrop to rectangle, mostly clad in metal with limited graphics. Those early trailers with minimal offerings have transformed over the years into massive profiles with slideouts and luxurious interior features with copious amounts of floor space. But memories of the classic earlier models are implanted forever.
A number of manufacturers are bringing back retro-style trailers with a bit more pizzazz. Riverside RV has a whole line of these trailers, fittingly named Retro. One model is the company’s White Water Retro 150, an updated throwback to the past, combining vintage looks, lines and colors with modern features and options. As retro-style trailers go, this one is more modern-square than retro-rounded, so its visual image is not as vintage-impressive as a “canned ham” trailer (see the Retro 155 and 166 for that), but it’s still a good-looking unit.
Overthinking was not part of the process when Riverside RV put the Retro 150 into preproduction. Like its small, lightweight predecessors, the 150 is basic but with an aura of quality. Employing some genuine Amish craftsmanship, the 150 begins life on a standard but practical powder-coated-steel square-tube frame sitting above a single axle with 13-inch wheels and tires nicely trimmed with classic moon hubcaps. Working up from the chassis is a 5/8-inch-thick single piece of floor decking, which ties into the wood-frame walls and roof structure. While parked at camp, a set of rear stabilizer jacks helps to ensure that on-solid-ground feeling.
Supporting the flashback design is an exterior that’s finished with nostalgic-looking corrugated metal siding, but the TPO/rubber roof is all 21st century. Topping off the outside is a stylish paint job in true vintage shades of silver with white trim and rich red stripes and understated graphics. Completing the exterior are a small but functional full-width individual compartment at the rear and access points for various utilities, such as sewer, LP-gas, battery, water and power connections — all the usual components needed in an RV.
Stepping into the surprisingly tall 6-foot 3-inch interior reveals a cleanly packaged array of standard features and options, not necessarily expected in a 14-foot 9-inch trailer weighing less than 2,000 pounds. The main bed area is in the back of the trailer, and it comes with a 46- x 78-inch standard RV-style mattress capable of squeezing in two adults with a little breathing room. Directly above is a full-width overhead cabinet with just enough space for weekend getaway essentials.
Centered on the street side is a small but totally functional wet bathroom. The simple lavatory houses no more than a shower enclosure and a toilet. Occupants can get the job done, but we’re talking basics here!
The front section is devoted to the dinette. At first glance, it’s hard to believe that this setup will seat four hungry adults, but surprisingly, there’s a decent amount of elbowroom for two adults per side. And yes, the dinette is slumber compatible for the right-size people — it converts into a 35- x 75-inch bed, which is plenty big for one adult and possible for two small kids who get along. Enhancing the dining ambience are three good-size windows decorated with lightly shaded window coverings.
Last but not least is everyone’s favorite spot, the kitchen. Although it’s quite small, this tiny galley is meal-preparation friendly. The counter may be a little short on workspace, but it houses important tools like a two-burner stove and a semi-tall faucet over a single-tub sink. Catching all those unwanted cooking fumes is a lighted hood connected to the bottom of the optional microwave oven. Unfortunately, there isn’t a gas oven, but you’d have to give up storage space to fit one. Helping to keep the climate under control is a standard 16,000-Btu furnace. That’s plenty of heat for this little thing, even in colder environments.
Those who want to “load” the trailer with more than just essentials will like the Package 1 option, which kicks in a wall-mounted (window-type) air conditioner, the aforementioned microwave and a spare tire. Just below the air-conditioning unit is the Option No. 2, 2.7-cubic-foot gas/electric refrigerator. The bigger fridge upgrade is quite nice for a trailer this size and extends your stays a little longer (standard is a 1.7-cubic-foot electric, Option No. 1 is 1.7-cubic-foot gas/electric). A hybrid option, which adds sleeping space for two with a 42- x 70-inch mattress that extends from the front of the trailer, is $1,350 extra.
All in all, the Retro 150 is a mighty capable trailer wrapped in a tiny package with classic looks and quality to boot. If you’re interested in a lightweight, light-priced trailer that’s towable by nearly any correctly hitched vehicle, the 150 gives a nod to the past while being rooted in the present.
Riverside RV | 260-499-4578 | www.riversidervs.net