Northwood’s smallest Arctic Fox fifth-wheel is big on features, quality and comfort
Consumers walking through dealer lots — or among the many rows of gleaming units at RV shows — are often faced with a painful question: How much is enough? How big do we really need this thing to be? How many gizmos and gadgets does our family require to enjoy a weekend away from home?
Legitimate questions, all. But if you’re shopping for a moderate-sized fifth-wheel, Arctic Fox, a division of La Grande, Oregon-based Northwood Manufacturing, has the answer: the 29-foot, 5-inch 27-5L. It has everything a couple or small family could want, including impressive holding-tank capacities and plenty of options, all in a manageable package that doesn’t require a dually to pull it.
Many “entry-level” fifth-wheels look like just that, but Northwood gets it right from the get-go with a handsome gray-and-white gel-coat exterior and niceties like a Carefree of Colorado power awning, exterior speakers, MORryde StepAbove entry steps with a sturdy stainless-steel railing, and lots of exterior lights including handy LEDs above the kingpin box and utility center. A generously proportioned and well-finished cargo area is accompanied by dual LP-gas cylinders on the curb side and a compartment for dual batteries on the street side.
The living area promotes hang time with friends and family. The kitchen, located in the rear-curbside corner, offers solid-surface countertops, a stainless-steel sink and faucet, a 10-cubic-foot refrigerator with raised wood-panel front, and a large pantry that should hold enough groceries for a weeklong trip. There’s also plenty of well-made cabinetry and drawers. Furrion appliances, including a range with commercial-style cast-iron grates and an overhead microwave, enhance the feeling of quality.
Opposite the kitchen in a large flush-floor slideout is the dining area, which can be furnished with either a freestanding table and four chairs or a Dream Dinette booth. Small families or those who expect the occasional overnight guest should opt for the latter, as it quickly turns into a bed and offers extra storage underneath each bench.
Exterior Length 29′ 5″
Exterior Width 8′ 6″
Interior Height 8′ 6″
Exterior Height 13′ 3″
Freshwater Cap. 72 gal.
Black-Water Cap. 65 gal.
Gray-Water Cap. 102 gal.
LP-Gas Cap. 20 gal.
UVW 10,455 lbs.
Hitch Weight 2,068 lbs.
GVWR 13,400 lbs.
MSRP, Base $61,475
Special thanks to Apache Camping Center in Portland, Oregon.
Forward of the dinette is the sofa, which in this case was the optional Thomas Payne cross-stitch model with cupholders and a large center storage area beneath the armrest. The seats recline and offer footrests, and are a very comfortable place to enjoy the 32-inch Vizio LED smart TV, located in an entertainment console with an AM/FM/CD/DVD player just below. The area also offers additional storage, a shelf with four USB charge ports, and an access door for the command center.
All in all, the area is very well-conceived and makes good use of space, but the forward wall, adorned with nothing more than a plain mirror, looks a bit odd. We’re accustomed to seeing an entertainment center (or something) here, but this isn’t possible in this floorplan due to the slideout’s path. This is really more of an observation than a complaint, however, and a small compromise given all the livability the space offers.
The bath area employs a traditional Jack-and-Jill layout, but again, use of space is well-conceived and the materials have a substantial feel. A small lavatory with a solid-surface countertop that matches the kitchen lives in the right-hand corner and is equipped with a small stainless-steel bowl and burnished-bronze faucet. Above is a mirrored medicine cabinet, and there is storage both underneath the counter and in a good-sized linen closet in the opposite corner.
A porcelain toilet and a large fiberglass shower enclosure with a glass door make the area feel like home, and a skylight and powered roof vent are overhead. What we really appreciated, however, was the quality of the materials, particularly the bathroom and bedroom doors; they have a heavy, residential feel that is missing from even some higher-end fifth-wheels.
In response to customer requests, many manufacturers wedge a king bed into the master suite, which sacrifices space elsewhere. The 27-5L has a queen bed, and as a result, boasts usable nightstands on either side, each with generous counter space, a drawer, reading light and 120-volt AC/USB outlets. A small wardrobe slideout on the street side offers room for hanging clothes on the left, shelf space on the right and drawers underneath.
In lieu of full-length overhead cabinets above the bed, the 27-5L has a shelf with rope lighting underneath and small overhead cabinets on either side, which seem to be more than adequate. If you need more storage, Northwood provided plenty of it under the comfy (albeit bouncy) queen bed, which is fitted with appropriate gas struts to make lifting the mattress platform easy.
If you’ve been looking for a “right-sized” fifth-wheel that can be towed with just about any three-quarter-ton truck, the Arctic Fox 27-5L will give you what you need.
A frequent contributor to Trailer Life, Chris Hemer is the former technical editor of Trailer Life and MotorHome, and has been an RV and automotive journalist for more than 20 years. An outdoor enthusiast who now makes his home in Portland, Oregon, he enjoys camping, motorcycle riding, mountain biking and hiking.