Paired with the Toyota Sequoia, the off-road-ready No Boundaries offers a lightweight alternative to toy haulers for adventure-minded RVers
Once upon a time, travelers put extra gear on the roof of their cars as a natural necessity. Adventurers progressed to bigger trunks, hatchbacks and SUVs with cargo areas rivaling that of a pickup truck.
When the toy hauler came into being, it was a new era. A garage! Fully portable! Inside the RV! Owners could put almost anything in there. A car pulling an RV, that’s so last-century. The RV could swallow the car and drive around with it in its belly. The lines were redrawn.
But however far the pendulum swings, it always comes back the other way. Just ask Edgar Allan Poe. Hello, recession. Hello, downsizing. Hello, demand for lighter units to tow with family vehicles. You remember — you were there.
The bad times are behind us, but the new niche remained and is still growing, if somewhat self-contradictory (aka, spoiled). There’s a prevalent urge to simplify without sacrifice; we want to enjoy life to the max, within the tenets of moderation.
Enter the No Boundaries line of travel trailers measuring 10, 16 or 19 feet long, all with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 5,000 pounds and prepped for rooftop Rhino Racks fitting a variety of outdoor equipment, among a host of other off-road-ready features.
Out and About
We tested the NB16.5 model and could tell a difference from our first walk-around. The utilities have a more rudimentary setup; various hookups are dotted along the side of the trailer, as opposed to being consolidated in a utility center, but they’re still within easy reach of a campground pedestal if you’re using one. The NoBo’s oversize nitrogen-filled all-terrain tires and 13-inch ground clearance make it easier to nose your way into a self-made spot near whatever nature-world adventure you’re chasing. And you’re undoubtedly going to get dirty while you’re doing it, so there’s an exterior shower to help with that.
Whatever your surroundings, you can drop anchor and make yourself at home, like we did.
I liked the stable MORryde steps that extend to the ground. The manual 12-foot box awning was a little tricky to figure out; even after I swallowed my “I can do it myself” pride and asked for help, it took two of us awhile to get it properly deployed. But afterward, we could plug in to the exterior power outlets to play our jams or use the standard JBL Flip 4 portable Bluetooth speaker, which also has a handy cradle on the wall right inside the entry door.
When it’s time to help steady fun stuff taken off the roof, you can improve reach from the side via the wheel skirts that are treaded and rated for 300 pounds — a handy option, at least for those who are less vertically challenged than I am. That boost wasn’t quite enough for me, so I scaled the sturdy rear ladder and, perk up your ears here, because this is where the NoBo shines. While I’m not afraid of ladders or reasonable heights, I haven’t always felt secure making that climb or cruising the roof once I did. Here, that wasn’t an issue.
The fully walkable PVC-covered roof is designed to handle this kind of use. Not just the pitter-patter of little feet, but heavier activity like pulling up kayaks or bikes, strapping them into the Rhino Rack, and later doing it all in reverse. I could probably do a jig up there and feel pretty good about it (note to self: must learn how to jig). That roof functionality is a unique feature, and I suspect a core selling point, for the NoBo line.
Back down on the ground, you’ll have other baggage that has to go somewhere. The “exterior storage” on the NB16.5 is actually inside storage with dual-access points; there’s a curbside compartment door to a small space under the dinette, and doors on both sides for the area under the rear queen bed.
Come In, Take a Load Off
Climbable, walkable exterior surfaces. Deep bedside cubby with power outlets. Oversize all-terrain tires and high ground clearance for off-road exploration.
What we’d like to see
Interior door leading to the under-bed storage space. A more-opaque bathroom door. More headroom at the dinette’s center seat. Softer interior lighting options.
Stepping inside the NB16.5, a wall console on the left provides hooks, a bottle opener and netted storage compartments, crowned with an in-counter safe. I liked the idea of having a secure space for small valuables, but the lock became jammed when I tried to insert the key, so I couldn’t take a look. An optional 28-inch HDTV, complete with audio output, PC-game and HDMI jacks, hangs on the wall facing the dinette but can swing around for bedroom viewing.
Straight ahead is the kitchen area. I’m pretty hardcore about an RV kitchen’s functionality, and I’m pleased to say the NB16.5’s kitchen was quite well designed and outfitted. The sink features a nicely arched faucet and is respectably roomy for an RV this size, and a slide-open window provides airflow for the two-burner cooktop that’s fitted with a flush cover.
There’s a surprising amount of storage here. The shelved under-sink cabinet has an inset spice-rack running the length of the counter, three drawers that slide out smoothly and farther than expected, and an overhead cabinet deep enough to fit bulkier items but shallow enough so that I didn’t bump my head while doing dishes. I found myself wishing they’d left part of the under-sink area open so it could house a small trash can. Instead, I stashed it under the dinette when no one was sitting there.
At the front is the dinette, and we’ll alight here on the highly subjective topic of decor. The NB16.5’s dominant grays and whites contribute to a light, pleasant interior, a necessity for a smaller RV that can feel even smaller with a too-dark palette. Still, to my eyes, the dinette’s warm amber brown and cream battled against the cool, bluer undertones of the grayish-brown cabinets, and the two throw pillows’ shades of orange in a blocky Arizona-style pattern seemed oddly out of place against the soft-gray bedspread. It’s just one person’s perspective, of course.
The NoBo still boasts a cheerful ambience overall, thanks largely to plentiful natural light provided in part by the U-shaped dinette’s two side windows and wide panoramic front window. Aside from a slight adult head-clearance problem toward the front, we enjoyed the dinette area and its good-sized, easy-lift freestanding table, from which you can easily scoot in or out.
It lowers to seat level to create another sleeping area for two, and an outlet on the nearby sink cabinet is handy for charging devices.
Heading toward the rear of the trailer is a wet bath. Hot water was routed pretty quickly to the shower, and the sink has its own faucet rather than the showerhead being the only water source. We were missing a mirror, though; there wasn’t one anywhere in the trailer. Another caveat is the translucent door, reminiscent of what you’d see on a sliding-door shower. That does let light into a very small space, but it also means people can see in easily, which gave us the willies, privacy-wise. My work-around was hanging an oversize beach towel on the door, but it sure would be nice to have a more-opaque material there.
Back toward the bedroom, the open cubby and two pullout drawers of the “pantry” comprise the NoBo’s closest thing to a dresser, so we used it for sundries rather than munchies. On the side facing the bed, there’s a nice, deep cutout with an outlet in the back (great for charging my Kindle overnight, which I always read much too far past my bedtime), and a ridge around the opening so my ever-present lip balm wasn’t in danger of rolling out. It was even tall enough to hold a bottle of water upright inside. An actual RVer had to have taken part in the creation of this thoughtful feature, which should always be the case, to my mind.
The under-bed space is open to the interior, presumably to accommodate longer cargo like skis or fishing rods, but because there was no door on it, we had some outdoor-temperature encroachment and nothing to keep items from sliding around during travel. After a day on the road, I found a bag I’d stashed back there sitting right inside the entry door when I opened it. A sliding door would be a simple remedy that doesn’t restrict function.
We stashed a couple bags on two drop-down fabric cargo shelves over the side windows, since the under-bed space mostly held outdoorsy items like campfire supplies and lawn games. The bed itself is very, very firm, so a mattress topper is recommended, if not a replacement mattress.
Takin’ It to the Streets
Towing the No Boundaries trailer with the Toyota Sequoia Limited 4×4 presented only a small challenge for the stout V-8. The Sequoia, which can be best compared to the Chevrolet Tahoe for size, is powered by a 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter i-Force engine that has proved its mettle over the years. Toyota rates this SUV for towing trailers up to 7,100 pounds in the four-wheel-drive iteration, and since the trailer weight sucked up less than half of the available rating, the engine pulled with no complaint.
Highway speeds were maintained easily, and when it came to passing slower traffic, throttle response was lively enough to make the maneuvers safely. It’s a smooth-running, quiet engine that consumes gasoline judiciously when solo and won’t break the bank when towing trailers to its rated limit.
The only issue experienced when pulling the No Boundaries was handling at highway speeds. Since the lightweight trailer has only a 310-pound hitch weight, it was connected to the Sequoia with a weight-carrying hitch, a hitch decision that proved a mistake. That choice was less than desirable and resulted in an unsettling feeling at highway speed. Drivers had to be careful to go easy on steering input, obviously, since even the light hitch weight unloaded the compliant front suspension enough to create stability problems. A weight-distributing hitch will help improve towing stability and is highly recommended for this type of towing setup, and you can also add a friction-type or some other sway-control device if the situation warrants.
Solo, the Sequoia is a dream to drive. The plush cockpit is graced with Limited-package amenities, and the seats are very comfortable. Seven people can travel in this SUV with surprising comfort for those who draw the short straws and are relegated to the third-row seating. Road noise is squelched nicely, and entertainment from the optional Premium JBL Audio package with integrated navigation and apps complements the cabin. Other than the JBL system, power memory for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors, carpeted floor mats and doorsill protector, everything else in the highly equipped Toyota is standard.
Although the Sequoia has a factory-installed hitch receiver and seven-way receptacle, the owner will be responsible for adding a brake controller. A connector for the wiring harness can be accessed by removing the driver’s-side kick panel. Alternatively, an app-controlled model like the Curt Echo could be used. Side-view-mirror extensions will also be the owner’s responsibility.
A host of electronic gizmos are provided by the factory, including a tow/haul position for the six-speed automatic transmission (to optimize shift points) and sway control, which had minimal effect on this combination.
Safety-wise, Toyota offers a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian warning to help with braking when the human factor isn’t enough, and a Lane Departure Alert, which warns the driver when the vehicle is moving out of the lane. A radar-supported automatic cruise control is also provided as standard equipment, which maintains speed and distance with traffic ahead.
Pulling into Home
The No Boundaries is aptly named. It’s all about possibilities here, both specialized and customizable. You can stamp outings with your own flavor of fun, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie like my daughter, or you’re like my brother-in-law for whom fishing is required by law, or you just want to ride your bicycle.
We RVers have blown way past the lure of the open road; we’re now swayed by the siren song of the open non-road. And we’re exploring that frontier by going back to basics, just a little smarter.
Exterior Length: 20′
Exterior Width: 8′
Exterior Height: (without A/C) 8′ 7″
Interior Width: 6′ 3″
Interior Height: 6′ 6″
Construction: Aluminum framing, block-foam insulation, pinch-roll laminated walls,
fiberglass shell, walkable PVC-covered roof
Freshwater Cap.: 30 gal.
Black-Water Cap.: 30 gal.
Gray-Water Cap.: 30 gal.
LP-Gas Cap.: 20 gal.
Water-Heater Cap: 6 gal.
Refrigerator: 3.7 cu. ft.
Furnace: 20,000 Btu
Air Conditioner: 13,500 Btu
Converter: 30 amp
Battery: Dealer installed
Suspension: Torsion-axle with
Weight: (freshwater and
LP-gas full; no cargo) 2,991 lbs.
Hitch Weight: 312 lbs.
Axle Weight: 2,679 lbs.
GVWR: 4,712 lbs.
GAWR: 4,400 lbs.
Cargo Carrying Cap.: 1,721 lbs.
MSRP, Base: $18,930
MSRP, As Tested: $24,331
Basic Warranty: 1 year
Engine: 5.7L V-8
Horsepower: 381 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Axle Ratio: 4.30:1
Fuel Cap.: 26.4 gal.
Suspension, Front/Rear: Coil-spring independent
double wishbone, gas shocks, stabilizer bar
Tow Rating: 7,100 lbs.
GVWR: 7,300 lbs.
GCWR: 13,500 lbs.
MSRP, Base” $60,020
MSRP, As Tested: $62,900
Basic Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles comprehensive
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
A northern Indiana native and lifelong intermittent RVer, Barb Riley uses her news-journalism degree writing for publications such as Trailer Life, Woodall’s Campground Management and RVBusiness, and scripting marketing communications for the RV industry. She enjoys reading, zip lines, roller coasters and finding new things to cook inside pudgy-pie irons over the campfire.