Mention “fifth-wheel” and the name conjures up a visualization of a very large trailer designed to provide mobile housing for long periods of time and lots of elbowroom. Until recently, not a lot of emphasis was placed on building fifth-wheels with svelte statures for a couple of reasons: The market was not enamored by smaller lightweight fifth-wheels and the lighter trucks targeted to pull them were on the anemic side.
The new stead of half-ton trucks powered by fire-breathing ponies and sporting eye-opening tow ratings has made shorter, lightweight fifth-wheels a popular choice for RVers looking to downsize and/or offer campsite versatility in parks with limited real estate. One company really hanging its hat on the future of lighter fifth-wheels is Northwood Manufacturing, a trailer and camper builder tucked away in the town of La Grande, Ore., and building RVs under the Nash nameplate.
One of the company’s latest endeavors is the Fox Mountain line of fifth-wheels. We enlisted a 245RKS model for a long-term project, which starts with a livability evaluation. Packaged within 29 feet, kingpin to rear bumper, the Fox Mountain offers plenty of livability without employing multiple slide outs and a bulky exterior profile. The floorplan is fairly simple, but it works nicely for a couple or family of four.
Up front, the cabover portion features an RV queen bed flanked by wardrobes and supported by an overhead cabinet structure. A full-length wardrobe with three drawers below is positioned curbside, at the foot of the bed.
The room is not exceptionally large since it’s not enhanced by a slideout, but the adjacent vanity and garden-type shower stall create a visually more spacious bedroom environment. Walk-around access to make up the bed is decent and the mattress is relatively comfortable, although those spending more time in this rig will likely opt for an aftermarket upgrade. Below the bed structure is a large storage area for bulky items. Side windows and a remote-control operated Fan-Tastic roof vent provide good control of airflow.
Rounding out the front area is the enclosed toilet room. Nothing extraordinary here, but there is a porcelain toilet and plenty of room to get the job done. A window and Fan-Tastic roof vent keep the air moving. The entire area can be closed off by an accordion door in front of the steps that lead to the cabover, and if necessary a second accordion door at the foot of the bed can be employed to isolate the bedroom from the bath area. At the top of the steps to the bath and bedroom is a door in the floor that leads to a laundry chute terminating in the basement storage compartment.
When you enter this fifth-wheel you’re in the galley. It’s a very practical kitchen for this rear-door model. The back wall is fitted with the refrigerator on the curbside followed by a counter with double sinks and a tall faucet, which handles large pots and pans easily. The counter wraps to the streetside where the three-burner range, oven and microwave are positioned. Overall, there’s pretty decent preparation area for even elaborate meals, supplemented by generous storage below and above the counter. The bulk of the groceries will store easily in the pantry next to the counter and in the slideout.
The rest — and center — of the fifth-wheel is dedicated to the living area, which is a comfortable place to hang out. Expanding the 88-by 38½-inch slideout takes the aforementioned pantry and convertible couch away from the opposing dinette. Once open, the floor space allows free movement for even a full house. We easily seated six adults during a rainy night dinner without claustrophobia. When the slideout clears the wall partitioning the shower from the living area, a large entertainment center is exposed. Here an LCD TV is hung on the wall using an adjustable bracket so the screen can be viewed from various angles. Nice touch, but the bracket is less than stout and probably won’t take too many rough roads. However, that can be fixed with an aftermarket bracket like those marketed by MOR/ryde.
The stereo features the standard fare items like an AM/FM radio and CD/DVD player with an iPod connection, and includes a surround sound system with a subwoofer mounted in the lower section of the entertainment structure. Audio can also be piped outside through weather-resistant speakers in the sidewall, and the TV can be removed from its inside bracket and installed outside on a pre-configured bracket on the sidewall to allow viewing from the patio. This type of hardware is probably the root cause for the bracket movement inside.
Very friendly décor graces the living area and the theme is continued throughout the interior. Beauflor vinyl is used on the floor until you get to the steps that lead to the front; carpeting is installed in the bedroom and bath area, and under the slideout. Day/night shades cover the windows, including the large picture window above the dinette. Ambient lighting is good and is augmented by recessed halogens in the ceiling and strategically placed incandescent fixtures.
The Nash designers are outdoor enthusiasts so their mindset has always been to build RVs that can be used year-round and in primitive locations. Consequently, the package includes larger holding tanks in heated bays, gravity water fill, completely enclosed underbelly, sealed area under the cabover, 30,000-Btu furnace and optional dual pane windows. A diamond-plate look accents the white gelcoat fiberglass exterior, and a ladder provides access to the roof. Add the electric awning, grab handle for the entry door, large pass-through storage lockers and this rig is ready for almost any type of destination. As a bonus, a 6-foot-tall cabinet is built into the exterior wall of the slideout room, which allows storage of bulky outdoor items like skis, fishing rods or just about anything that will fit within its 18-inch-wide by 17-inch-deep confines.
Core strength for the Fox Mountain starts with the chassis, which is proprietary and built from scratch using heavy-duty steel and welded arches along the main rails that create upward chambers. This type of construction is designed to prevent frame sagging over time. Axles are attached to an Equa-Flex shock absorbing suspension.
The laminated walls use .060-thick aluminum tubing for the frame structure and all joints are welded across the entire width. Walls are anchored through solid blocking and the roof is a series of bow trusses to produce an arched profile for the 3/8-inch decking. This makes for a strong enough roof for walking upon; the roof is covered with a rubber membrane.
Two-pound block foam fills the voids in the sidewall structure and the roof is filled with blanket insulation, raising the R-value to 18.
By the time the fifth-wheel is decked out with features and accessories, the wet weight hits 8,000 pounds, which is well within the limits set for many half-ton tow vehicles. Large storage spaces will likely mean the owner will end up close to the 9,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr), which will boost the 1,400-pound hitch weight, unloaded. That being the case, choosing the right half-ton pickup will be tricky depending on the amount of stuff carried in the trailer and bed of the truck. Most potential owners will have to opt for an HD rear axle capacity option, like the one offered by Ford, if for example, the F-150 5.4L is the desired truck.
Nevertheless, we towed this trailer with a 2006 Ford F-150 that we plan on using as part of this project.
Handsome graphics on the bright white exterior, complemented by the stylish wheels, give the Fox Mountain a modern look with a touch of toughness for those off-the-beaten path adventures. It lives well, tows easily and is backed by a company respected for its integrity.
Ext length 28′ 6″
Ext width 8′
Ext height 12′ 7″
Int width 7′ 10.5″
Int height 7’ 4″ – 8’ 2”
Construction Aluminum frame, laminated
side walls, wood roof with bow trusses and rubber membrane, foam/blanket insulation, fiberglass exterior, proprietary chassis
Freshwater cap 54 gal
Gray-water cap (2) 40/35 gal
Black-water cap 35 gal
LP-gas cap 14 gal
Water heater 6 gal, LP-gas/electric
Refrigerator 8 cu ft
Furnace 30,000 Btu
Air conditioner 13,500 Btu
Converter 45 amp
Battery (1) Group 24, 12-volt
Tires ST225/75R15 LR D
Suspension Leaf spring, Equa-Flex
Weight (freshwater, water heater,
LP-gas full; no cargo): 8,000 lbs
Hitch weight 1,400 lbs
Axle weight 6,600 lbs
Gross vehicle weight rating 9,500 lbs
Gross axle weight rating 5,200 lbs
Cargo carrying capacity 1,500 lbs
MSRP, base $37,575
MSRP, as tested $37,590
Basic warranty 12 mo