An Efficient Floorplan Makes the Lightweight Forest River Salem T23FBS a Practical Getaway for Couples
As a long-time woodworking enthusiast, I find my favorite tools are well built and do one thing really well. The same is true of the Salem T23FBS by Forest River. It’s simple, straightforward and relatively small, but the efficient and open floorplan does everything most couples would want for weekend getaways.
Forest River builds the Salem in three locations — California, Oregon and Indiana — specific to weather conditions. The test trailer was built in Dallas, Oregon, which happens to be very close to Salem, the Oregon capital. According to Ron Mullet, Salem product general manager, “Our Oregon plant produces Salems for the Northwest United States and Western Canada. This Salem plant focuses on producing RVs that are smaller, lighter and better equipped to handle the colder temps.”
The Forest River plant building Salem RVs in Indiana produces a wide array of sizes (18 feet to 42 feet) and the California plant builds Salems that can handle the heat and feature bigger freshwater tanks for travel to areas with a limited freshwater supply.
Three things give the Salem T23FBS a big interior feel. First, there is only one partition at the bathroom, which covers the width of the rear the trailer. Second, a mid-unit sofa slideout opens up the floor space from side to side. Finally, there is a wide opening into the bedroom. If you leave the bedroom curtain drawn back, it “opens” up the floorplan and you can spend a lot of time in this trailer and feel you have plenty of room to breathe.
The aluminum exterior siding is a clue to the affordability of this efficient travel trailer, while bold graphics and a smart untextured front skin give it a contemporary appeal. Good ground clearance necessitates double steps at each of the two entry doors. Foldaway handles are optional; the test unit had one installed at the rear door.
The primary entry door is located at the rear of the trailer just ahead of the bathroom. The entry is tucked away in a fashion that doesn’t take a bite out of the floor space and provides easy access to the bathroom, refrigerator and galley without interrupting those relaxing in the living area.
The bathroom is very spacious for a trailer this size. Placed at the rear of the trailer, it features a roomy corner shower, which is helped by the optional skylight for extra headroom. Should the need arise, this bathroom can even be used by two people at once without feeling cramped.
The fixtures are basic but the large vanity cabinet has plenty of counterspace, under-sink storage and three drawers. Smart little details, such as orienting the toilet at an angle, accentuate the large feel of the bathroom.The kitchen counter is arranged in an L-shape with the sink wisely placed at one end, making it easily accessible and providing more counterspace in the corner.
At first glance, this unit seems to be shy of cabinet space, but once you start stocking your kitchen supplies and food, you find there is much more storage available than expected because of the deep corners and large wall cabinets above the sofa and above the dinette.
Cooking equipment includes a three-burner Suburban gas range with room for a full-size cookie sheet in the oven and efficient spacing between the three burners on the cooktop surface. Over the range is an exhaust fan with a cook lamp. Higher yet is the High Pointe microwave oven. A large Dometic refrigerator operates on AC and LP gas.
The look and texture of the vinyl floor does a good job of emulating wood plank. Its colors are a good fit for trailers and the material is easy to clean. The upholstery, wall finish and countertops coordinate well for a contemporary feel with a practical color combination and pattern for family use.
The master bedroom area is roomy and symmetric with a hanging closet on both sides. A large shelf bridges the area above the head of the bed. Access to the front storage area can be gained by lifting the bed or from outside.
The stock mattress was wanting in both comfort and size, but there is room to upgrade to a queen-size mattress if you are so inclined.
One great feature of the master area is an additional exterior door, which allows an early riser to escape without disturbing sleepy heads in the aft area.
The Winegard TV antenna operates from the master area and can be adjusted from there as well. It is connected to an outlet in the entertainment area, which is above the dinette. In addition to TV hookups, it includes a Jensen stereo unit with radio, CD and MP3 auxiliary jack. Pairs of speakers are located in the dinette, in the galley and outdoors under the awning.
Air conditioning is provided by a Dometic Duo-Therm roof-mounted unit, with ceiling duct outlets in the galley, the bathroom and the bedroom, and a direct outlet over the dinette and sofa areas.
There are cost and weight saving characteristics you would expect for a travel trailer in this price range, including a shower curtain rather than an enclosure, laminate countertops and light-duty window blinds. However, the design, decor and craftsmanship give this trailer a high-quality look and feel.
Options on the test unit included decor wall border ($87), stabilizer jacks ($261), spare tire and carrier ($261); skylight over tub ($130), heated enclosed holding tanks ($348) and a second entry door ($420).
Ideal for a couple with occasional guests, the Salem T23FBS offers a nice open feel, comfortable living quarters and good sight lines on a highly maneuverable conventional platform that won’t break the bank. Built for the Northwest with extra insulation and tanks that are both enclosed and heated, this Forest River product is ideal for weekend getaways and can easily be called into service for more extended trips.
Larry Walton is a longtime outdoor and automotive writer-photographer providing content for enthusiast magazines and product communications. A lifelong RVer, he currently lives in southern Idaho with his wife, Robin. These days the Waltons can often be found camping in the Sawtooth Mountains and exploring desert landscapes and local mining roads with their Polaris RZR side-by-side.