Smaller towables – many with strong green components to them and lighter weights – were among the major trends at the 46th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
That, of course, is not to say that full-size towables capable of sustaining long-term travel are passé. But there’s a perceptible change afoot among manufacturers focusing, at least in part, on younger, outdoors-minded campers.
While smaller RVs are becoming more popular in a general sense, a slew of towable manufacturers also have turned to composite materials to significantly lighten their units by limiting the use of luan and wood in the lamination process. Said to be more environmentally friendly, composites – right now primarily used in substrate and slideouts – have two benefits. They weigh substantially less than the wood-based products they replace while removing most of the formaldehyde found in traditional construction.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Airstream turned to composite materials to build the “post-modern” lightweight Scout concept travel trailer. “We took about 50 percent of the weight out of the chassis using a lightweight, high-strength alloy steel,” said Mark Wahl, senior vice president of operation. “Then, we made a fully composite body. There is no wood anywhere in the structure. Even most of the cabinets are composite materials.” The 2,000-pound, 16-foot Scout is distinct from Airstream’s traditional products in that it features flat side walls with a satin-nickel appearance, white-wall tires, lightweight dual-pane windows, white-vinyl u-shaped rear dinettes, flat screen TVs and translucent sliding cabinet doors.
Offering a whole host of lightweight composite components, Coachmen’s new Swift travel trailer was designed to meet the growing industry trend toward lighter-weight tow vehicles. With a dry weight of 3,500 pounds, the 30-foot Swift uses composites in the side walls as well as in the flooring. The interior of this travel trailer consists of other lightweight materials, such as aluminum-framed furniture, acrylic sliding doors and lighter weight appliances. Other features include convection/microwave ovens, 19-inch LCD TVs and U-shaped dinettes. msrp: $24,500.
Cruiser RV has added a 24-foot SURV floorplan to its V-nose Viewfinder travel-trailer lineup that is designed with the bath and shower over the A-frame. The 71?2-foot wide fiberglass-and-aluminum trailer features a one-piece V-shaped fiberglass front cap designed to reduce drag. msrp is about $23,000 when outfitted with maple cabinets with hidden hinges, laminate countertops with wooden edges, glass neo-angle showers and foldup furniture.
DRV introduced a 36-foot fifth-wheel in its high-end Elite Suites line offering opposing sliderooms in the living area and the rear bedroom. The 36TKSB4 floorplan is packaged with a host of residential-style amenities that include an extra-wide angled bathroom with linen and closet storage. A privacy door leads into a spacious bedroom area with a king-size bed, wardrobe storage that runs the width of the coach along the back wall and a vanity slide. A washer-dryer combo is situated alongside the bed in the opposing bedroom slide. Other features include a Dometic ice-and-water refrigerator, optional fireplace, custom woodwork throughout and a six-point hydraulic leveling system. msrp: $110,000.
The entry-level Dutchmen 29VNT floorplan is Dutchmen’s first V-nose travel trailer – a popular innovation to maximize space by creating habitable areas over the A-frame. The 24-foot wood-and-aluminum 29VNT features a small galley slideout and incorporates two tent-like queen-bed extensions set at a 45-degree angle off the 3-foot long A-frame that includes a children’s play area. Privacy curtains separate the bed extensions. Fiberglass side walls are optional. Three other floorplans will be available in spring. Base msrp: about $19,000.
Forest River designed the new retro-look R-Pod travel-trailer series to be towed by small SUVs and crossover vehicles. The R-Pod is available in seven 16- and 18-foot floorplans- one equipped with a slideout – with dry weights from 1,900 to 2,400 pounds. The laminated-fiberglass-and-aluminum R-Pod is equipped with torsion axles, LED taillights, wet baths with integrated toilets, no-wax seamless vinyl flooring, raised panel cabinet doors and hardwood drawer fronts. msrp: $10,900.
Gulf Stream introduced a 39-foot, six-slideout floorplan in its Prairie Schooner fifth-wheel series. The mid-kitchen coach has opposing sofa slideouts, two others in the kitchen, one in the hallway and another in the bedroom, creating 396 square feet of living area. Built on a drop frame, the Prairie Schooner features include hardwood cabinets, an archway separating the kitchen from the living room, a fireplace situated beneath a 42-inch LCD TV and optional “attic” cabinets over each slideout to store items not in everyday use. msrp: $100,000.
Sporting an aerodynamic fiberglass front cap and a crowned roof that allows 7-foot interior ceilings, Heartland’s new Edge travel trailer line is a lightweight RV with a lot of eye appeal. The laminated Edge’s “curvilinear” design affords a roomier interior. Other features include tandem axles, oversized basement storage and fully equipped kitchens with Euro-style refrigerators. Available in four 13- to 21-foot floorplans, msrp on the 18-foot show model is $18,550.
Heartland also introduced a new Eagle Ridge fifth-wheel with six floorplans designed to accommodate both couples and families with children. The new laminated-and-aluminum 32- to 39-foot Eagle Ridge is available with up to four slideouts, and msrp for the 35DSRL loft floorplan is $38,690.
Hi-Lo has borrowed from the design of its telescoping towables to create the new Hi-Lo Mojo lightweight travel trailer with the retro appearance of a teardrop trailer in the travel mode but with 75 inches of headroom inside when setup. With a dry weight of 1,400 pounds, the 16-foot Hi-Lo is hinged in front of the door and the rear raises with the assistance of air struts. Unlike a traditional teardrop, the Mojo’s kitchen is inside the unit. msrp: $12,953.
Keystone RV has established a new Bullet division offering a line of “premier ultra-lightweight” travel trailers that can be towed by crossover vehicles and half-ton pickup trucks. Available in five 16- to 33-foot floorplans with dry weights at 2,300 pounds, the laminated-fiberglass-and-aluminum Bullet features a spread axle design, solid hardwood cabinet doors, LCD TVs, an outside grill, power awnings and pass-through storage. All units, except the 16-footer, have an aerodynamic fiberglass front cap that reduces wind resistance. msrp starts at $15,900.
KZ-RV has added the 18-foot GO LO to the MXT SURV series, a one-of-a-kind design that sports independent suspension on all four wheels and a set of gas-strut-assisted airbags that drop the unit eight inches when parked to load toys easier. At 100 inches wide and with an 8-foot-deep garage that is open into the living area, the laminated fiberglass-and-aluminum MTX 184 floorplan can carry one or two motorcycles. msrp: $20,000.
Truck camper manufacturer R.C. Willett rolled out the Northstar Escape Pod designed to sit on a flatbed pickup truck with the rigid sides replaced by aluminum ones that fold down. Displayed on a 5,150-pound gvwr GMC Canyon mid-size pickup truck with fold-down aluminum sides and tailgate, the 81?2-foot Escape Pod is equipped with thermopane windows, a cassette toilet, combination sink/stoves, a microwave and air conditioner. msrp: $21,000; with the GMC Canyon, $49,995.
R-Vision minimized the weight of the new Nano travel trailer series by incorporating composite substrate in the fiberglass-side-wall lamination process. The fiberglass-and-aluminum Nano is designed with the A-frame extending to the torsion axle for better support. Nano is available in five 20- to 24-foot floorplans – including three front-bed layouts – with LED taillights, European SMEV sinks and two-burner stoves, full baths and ABS showers, mortise-and-tenon cabinet doors, radius countertops, recessed galley lighting and Cool Cat heat/AC pumps. msrp: $14,500.
Winnebago’s new 2010 Class A Winnebago Via/ Itasca Reyo motorhome is available later this year on a front-diesel Dodge Sprinter F-50 cowl chassis. The 25-foot European-inspired Via/Reyo is estimated to get 15 mpg and was named Best of Show by Trailer Life’s sister publication, RV Business. The Sprinter chassis features a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 11,030 pounds and is equipped with a 3.0-liter 154-hp Mercedes-Benz turbocharged V-6 diesel engine. msrp: high $130,000s.
Airstream Inc., (877) 596-6111, www.airstream.com.
Coachmen Industries Inc., (574) 262-0123, www.coachmenrv.com.
Cruiser RV, (866) 277-5630, www.cruiserrv.com.
DRV, (260) 562-1075, www.doubletreervsuites.com.
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., (574) 534-1224, www.dutchmen-rv.com.
Forest River Inc., (574) 533-5934, www.forestriverinc.com.
Gulf Stream Coach Inc., (800) 289-8787, www.gulfstreamrv.com.
Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, (574) 266-8726, www.heartlandrvs.com.
Hi-Lo Trailer Company Inc., (800) 337-6490, www.hilotrailer.com.
Keystone RV Company, (574) 535-2100, www.keystonerv.com.
KZ-RV LLP, (866) 472-5460, www.kz-rv.com.
R.C. Willett Company Inc., (319) 233-3461, www.northstarcampers.com.
R-Vision Inc., (574) 268-2111, www.trail-lite.com.
Winnebago Industries Inc., (641) 585-3535, www.winnebagoind.com.