Small Trailer Snapshot: The r-pod 192

Recently while traveling from Indiana to South Dakota for vacation, I had an 1100 mile (each way) chance to observe on the highways what people were camping with. One thing stuck out: There are a lot of Forest River r-pods out there. Just on the trip out from home to our Custer, South Dakota base for the week, I encountered roughly 10 r-pods in that two-day trip. And it should come as no surprise, as the r-pod has been the number one selling small trailer under 20 feet for a few years now. I don’t know all my r-pod floorplans from the outside, but one of them I did see on Interstate 90 in South Dakota has been my favorite since it debuted last year, and that’s the RP-192.

Key Features: Laminlux Exterior Azdel Fiberglass; Full rear bathroom with ample linen closet; 60” x 80” Murphy bed; 6 cubic foot gas/electric refrigerator/freezer; 4 speed MaxxAir® Fan; 13.5K BTU air conditioner; Convection microwave oven; Central vacuum; Solar prep; Optional Solar Package (110W Panel, Digital Controller, 1000 Watt Inverter); 20,000 BTU furnace; USB Charging Ports

Key Specs: With a dry weight of 3,449 lbs and total length of 22’, the RP-192 isn’t going to be a small trailer for every tow vehicle. However, if you have a tow vehicle capable of towing 4500 lbs or higher, you should have no problems in that regard.

  • Hitch weight: 460 lbs
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1411 lbs
  • Exterior height: 9’10”
  • Exterior width: 96”
  • Fresh water capacity: 30 gallons
  • Gray water capacity: 30 gallons
  • Black water capacity: 30 gallons
  • Awning size: 11’

Why I like it: When I first stepped into the RP-192 at last year’s RV open house in Elkhart, Indiana, it wowed me instantly. I’m big into having a lot of natural light in a trailer, and the RP-192 offers just that. A big part of that light is aided by the huge 65” x 24” dinette window, which stretches nearly the entire length of the dinette. And although it’s a small window, the addition of a window in the bathroom on the back wall of the trailer really ties in well with the natural light theme of the RP-192. In total, there are six windows, including the door. When you have the bed down in sleep mode, you benefit from a big front window. And speaking of the Murphy bed, it’s not your typical RV queen bed. It’s a full 60” x 80” standard queen.




Even without a Murphy bed, this is a popular floorplan used by many manufacturers, and the design team at r-pod have taken it a step further. Storage is ample as well, with full pass thru storage up front, two wardrobes (with backlighting) on either side of the bed, storage under the sofa, cabinets above the dinette with additional storage u see the dinette booths, a nice mirrored kitchen pantry, cabinets above and below the kitchen counter, and a big wardrobe with additional cabinets in the bathroom. So you get all of this kitchen storage and still get the benefit of the big 6 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer.

 


r-pod has been the king of the small trailer market for a while now, and I don’t see that letting up. In recent years they’ve been coming up with some new floorplans and adding twists to old floorplans. The RP-192 is no exception. If you’re looking for a well thought-out couple’s trailer with good storage and good room for two from a trailer with a solid reputation, you’ll want to add the r-pod RP-192 high on your list. 
 
For more info on the r-pod RP-192, visit their website at: https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/travel-trailers/r-pod/RP-192/5158

Also, here’s a great walk-thru with PJ from one of our favorite small trailer dealers, Princess Craft RV

 

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Product Review: The Happy Camper pencil holder

So we’re on our fifth week of stay at home. Campgrounds across the country are closed. RV manufacturers have shut down, either voluntarily or via a state mandate. It’s the time of year where we’re supposed to be de-winterizing and pulling those tarps off for another season of camping. But we know life put the brakes on that for a while. Some of you have decided to make lemonade out of this big lemon we’ve been given and have been setting up your campsite in your driveways and backyards. The rest of us wait patiently for the all clear for our campgrounds and RV parks to open so we can salvage some semblance of camping season.

Last week a Facebook friend sent me a link to this cool little accessory she thought I should have. Once I saw it, I thought that it looks nice, but for $10, how good is it really? After getting mine today, I can say it’s REALLY good. The Happy Camper pencil holder from Rhode Island based Fred, a Pawtucket company that, as their website indicates, “is made up of a ragtag group of designers and product development specialists who are devoted to bringing amusing, intriguing and useful ideas to life.” One look through their website will prove the truth in that statement.

The Happy Camper pencil holder is made up of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) and it is VERY solid in its construction, as well as light weight. Once assembled (it takes about 3 minutes), you’ll have four compartments for your pens & pencils. But as you can see from my set-up, you can use it for anything small that you want to keep nicely contained. These make a really nice desk or kitchen accessory at home, or even to keep odds & ends in inside your trailer. And speaking of trailer, the design of the Happy Camper just screams of an early 1960’s Shasta Airflyte.

And if you have read my myriad of small trailer snapshot segments, you’ll know I can’t let an kind of trailer review get by without sharing specs. So here we go:

Length: 5 1/2” hitch to tail

Width: 3”

Height: 3”

Dry weight: 3.46 ounces

The Happy Camper can be found on the Fred website for $10 + shipping at https://www.genuinefred.com/5242680-happy-camper or also on Amazon. To learn more about Fred and shop their online store, go to genuinefred.com, or visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/GenuineFred.

 

 

 

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Aero Teardrops introduces canned ham prototype – the Sellwood

Ever since Tigard, Oregon based Aero Teardrops went into business just 5 years ago, their sole product has been, as their name would imply, teardrop trailers. But it was in 2018 when co-owners Brian Seeley and Janice Levenhagen-Seeley decided to go bigger and work on producing a traditional “canned ham” style trailer. As Janice told me recently, “We decided to try making a canned ham probably a year and a half ago, but it took us a while to finally get around to making the prototype. The Sellwood is a 13′ model, and we plan to create the Fremont, a 16′ model with a bathroom, in the nearish future. All of our models are named after Portland bridges, in case you were wondering. 🙂 We do a few RV shows every year, and at each we hear from a good number of people who love our teardrops but want to do more camping year-round than the teardrop style comfortably allows. We also looked at the options for that size and style of trailers at these shows and were unimpressed by the quality–they were all mass-produced. We knew we could make something that would provide both the quality we had in our teardrops and the more weatherproof camping that a fully contained trailer allowed for. And, last but not least, they were adorable and I had to have one. We love the tiny house movement, and the idea of creating a beautiful, functional, fully contained tiny house on wheels is a lot of fun.”
When I first saw the pictures of the Sellwood prototype, the first thing that really stuck out to me…or fooled me for a better word…is that I really thought it was a 1960’s era trailer. There’s a reason it was that original looking. As Janice tells us, “We loosely based this trailer on a 1965 Aljo that we had purchased and pulled apart to see 1. how it was built, 2. how it had failed (water damage, mainly), and 3. how we wanted to improve ours. Those windows are the ones we pulled from that trailer. Those and the bumper are actually the only things that we ended up reusing. We had originally planned to restore the Aljo but the water damage was just too extensive.” Another thing that caught my eye were the jalousie windows in the prototype. For me, that screams retro! But not so fast. While the Aljo did have jalousie style windows, which are used in the prototype, the production models will differ, and really for the better. Despite the cool factor of that style of window, they were prone to be a headache with so many moving parts and potential leak points. As Brian told me in an email, “The windows that we are planning to use in production models are the Dometic S5 dual pane windows with integrated honeycomb blinds.” This makes good sense, as it’s going to be a lot better window. And speaking of windows, the size of the window openings in the Sellwood create an incredible amount of natural light. Whether it’s around the front dinette or the rear couch, you likely won’t need to use any of the lights within the trailer until nightfall. The front dinette converts into a 35″ x 79″ twin bed, while the rear couch converts into a 50″ x 80″ double bed. You can also order as an option, a hammock bunk over the rear couch. But that’s not the only option, as Janice explains. “For the options, we’re starting out with just a few. I’m sure we’ll keep adding as people start requesting things! In addition to the hammock bunk and AC, they can also order a larger fridge, customizable upholstery, customizable curtains, an external propane hookup for barbecuing outside, solar panels, rear receiver for a bike rack, a drawer for a small porta-potty, and an exterior shower. For the external colors, there will be the standard 10 that we offer our teardrops in for no additional fee, but there’s also the option to do any color under the sun through either powder-coating or vinyl wrap. For the interior colors, they will be able to choose their countertop and flooring from a large variety. And of course, customers will name their trailers and get a custom name plate for each just like the teardrops (this one is named Alameda).” While the base Sellwood does not come with a wet bath, as Janice relayed, it will have a drawer for a small potty, to save from those night time runs to the comfort station at the campground. But what it does offer in lieu of a wet bath is an ample wardrobe just to the left of the entry door. However, there will be an option for a wet bath, which will alter the interior on the sides somewhat. The wet bath will be opposite of the entry door, and the kitchen will be broken up on both sides. But with the base Sellwood model, the kitchen is quite useful, complete with oven, stove, sink with on demand hot water, a mini fridge, and ample counter space for this size of a trailer. With the wet bath option, you lose the oven, but gain a microwave. One suggestion I’d have on the base model is to ditch the oven and go with a microwave or perhaps a convection oven, which we see more and more of in the small trailer segment. As for construction and dimensions, the Sellwood features:

Fully welded frame

Black powder coat on frame

2000 lb Timbren axle-less system w/ brake flanges

Fully insulated Aluminum siding, choice of silver or of 9 standard accent colors with silver

Rubber roof

Specs:

Dry Weight – 2500lbs

Tongue Weight – 400lbs

Trailer Body Length – 13 feet

Trailer Body Height – 6 feet, 9 inches

Trailer Body Width – 7.5 feet (90 inches)

Internal Height – 6’7″

Overall Length – 17 feet

Overall Height – 8 feet, 5 inches (including fan)

Overall Width – 7.5 feet (90 inches)

MSRP will start at $24,999.

At the time I’m writing this, Aero Teardrops will have a display at the Portland International Auto Show, February 20-23, 2020 at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, Oregon. They will have a couple of teardrops as well as the prototype of the Sellwood on hand if you’re in the northwest region of the US. Show info can be found here: https://portlandautoshow.com For more info on the Sellwood or any of the teardrops Aero Teardrops offers, visit their website at http://aeroteardrops.com.      

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Winter camping made easier

It was back in 2014 when I gave you some of our tips & tricks for successful winter camping. However, that is when we had a much smaller trailer which also had a wet bath instead of the full dry bath that we have today. So while I was out at our seasonal site today, I decided I’d do a little update on our potty accommodations.

When we had our Serro Scotty with the wet bath, we used in our toilet these things called “Double Doodie” bags, which we used to line our toilet with during the winter camping season. Since then, we have a different trailer that has a full dry bath, with separate toilet and tub. This gave me the ability to improve on the potty situation and make things a little easier.

With the “luxury” of having a bath tub in our current trailer, I’m able to set a Camco portable cassette toilet within the tub. At first it may sound a little on the “Ehhhh….no” side, but going this route has really improved on our winter camping experience. A couple seasons ago, we acquired the toilet when we had our teardrop trailer. When we sold that trailer, I didn’t let the toilet go with it. My instincts told me I needed to keep it. And so an idea popped into my head a couple seasons ago to use it during our winter camping trips.

It’s pretty simple. I just lay a bath towel on the bottom of the bath tub to limit the amount of dirt from shoes, and then rest the cassette toilet on top of that.

Instead of using water in the reservoir, I use RV antifreeze. Keeps things from freezing, plus it eliminates the need to dump the cassette tank before the end of each camping weekend. I shot a video of the are on YouTube here:

As for everything else discussed in my post from 2014, everything remains the same. We still use the same Honeywell space heater, a Keurig K-Cup coffee maker,  and still bring water to drink or cook with, which is something we do even in the warm camping months.

Winter camping can be really fun, with not a lot of planning. And if you’re experiencing a dry winter, then all the more reason to hitch up and go! There’s a lot of fantastic scenery to experience in the winter.

So do you have winter camping potty ideas of your own? I’d love to hear them! Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

 

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R-pod 196 tabbed for 2nd Annual Girl Camper charity raffle

In 2018, founder of the Girl Camper podcast, Janine Pettit, organized a raffle to benefit the HoldYou Foundation, an organization based in Sherman Oaks, California that assists families facing financial hardship due to a child with a life threatening illness or injury. The foundation assists with services such as rent & mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, gas, child care, transportation, and insurance premiums. The prize was a 2019 Little Guy Mini Max, and the raffle generated some $61,000 in ticket sales at the close of the raffle in February 2019.

In September 2019, the 2nd Annual Girl Camper charity raffle was started, and will conclude February 14, 2020. This year, the grand prize is a 2020 R-pod 196. But it’s not just any R-pod. As Janine tells us, “We partnered with Spoonflower to take it from “Factory to Fabulous.”  Spoonflower is a fantastic company that creates custom fabrics, wallpapers and linens from your own designs. You can upload your own artwork or use any of the art other designers have already created. I chose three different designs from three different artists and installed them in our r pod 196 to give it a home feel. What is great about the Spoonflower paper is that it is very easy to install and it is also removable if you decide to go with a different aesthetic.”

“I chose a pattern called Freedom Arrows by domesticate for the “bedroom” of our little home on wheels. I love the complimentary colors of the rust and navy. It was a nice complement to our Beddy’s Bed pattern as well.  The bed in the 196 is a standard size Queen with lots of storage underneath it. On ether side of bed are nice wardrobe closets that provide lots of space for hanging clothes. The doors are frosted and when the interior closet light is turned on at night they make a pretty nightlight.”

Continuing on to the bathroom, “Modern Geometric by Lemonni was the winner for our bathroom paper. I love how sunny it is and it fits this bathroom that, while small, packs a punch. There is an overhead fantastic fan in the bathroom and the shower stall has a large skylight that lets in so much natural light. The lower sink has cabinet space for toiletries and the medicine cabinet has three pretty deep shelves. There’s also a towel storage shelf with bungee netting and a slightly bowed shower curtain for a little extra elbow room. The US map is a treasure of mine at home that I just had to lend to the project because it is such a great match to this wallpaper. Don’t look for it if you win the trailer though, I’m keeping it!!”

The living area features a jackknife sofa that converts to a twin bed for additional guests. It too had a makeover with new fabric installed on it. As Janine says, “When we took this camper from “Factory to Fabulous”, we took the sofa out and had it reupholstered to give it the comfort of home. I was pleasantly surprised it went far beyond aesthetics…that couch was really comfy. It has a large widow behind it to bring in lots of sunlight.”

The kitchen is basic, yet useful. It comes with a recessed two-burner stove, which gives you ideal cutting space. And the sink is a deep, stainless steel that comes with a swivel faucet. The convection microwave oven makes cooking a breeze and there is ample pantry, cabinet, and drawer space. The refrigerator is a 6 cubic foot, gas, electric, and battery powered double door with separate freezer.

Some basic R-pod 196 specs include a length of 22 feet, dry weight of 3578 lbs, fresh water tank holding 36 gallons, and gray and black water tanks each holding 30 gallons.

To enter the drawing , you can buy your tickets online here: https://www.rafflenetwork.com/public/102/1444 Tickets are just $10 each, and currently just under $21,000 worth of tickets have been sold. This is a great cause, so let’s get onboard!

For an in-depth walk through with Janine, click on the video link here:

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And now a word from our sponsor: Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers

Over the years I’ve followed several small manufacturers I’ve become aware of, typically via social media, and have watched how they progress over time. One that fits that category is Pilot Mountain, North Carolina based Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers, and I couldn’t be more pleased they’ve chosen to partner with us on The Small Trailer Enthusiast.

Founded in 2013 by Jonathan and Kathy Sechrist, 2nd generation owners Levi and Magon Sechrist now run the family business, located southeast of Mount Airy.  Rustic Trail has put out over 400 campers in that time, which is quite impressive considering they only have about 8 employees total. And when you factor in their wait time on a build is about 90 days, they are keeping everyone busy.

Rustic Trail specializes in lightweight teardrop and stand-up trailer floorplans, with five floorplans ranging in weights from 1,000 to 1600 lbs and lengths up to 14 feet from hitch to tail. The base color is white, with the exception of the Kodiak Stealth which is gray. You can also have a 3″ colored stripe along the sides as well, at no additional charge, with several colors from which to choose.  For full specs and options, click on the individual links to the models below:

The E-Koala starting at $4950:

The Kodiak Stealth starting at $8450:

The Papa Bear starting at $6700:

 

The Grizzly Bear starting at $7700:

The Polar Bear starting at $8750:

I remember seeing a Rustic Trail at a rally in southern Indiana – I believe it was a Polar Bear. Since there was no one on the site, I just scoped it out from the peripheral. Just from the exterior, I liked what I saw. What I have learned over the past couple years following them on Facebook is they are well connected with their customers. Rustic Trail has an exceptional website that’s easy to navigate through, as well as quite thorough. Their Facebook page covers a lot of bases as well. Informative without the non-stop little camping memes that too many RV manufacturers & dealers continually post that has no relevance to their product (Can you sense a personal pet peeve here?). Their company Facebook page (click here) has over 4,500 followers, but there’s also a very active Facebook group for owners and potential owners to communicate (click here) that has nearly 3,000 members. There’s also an annual reunion rally for owners to congregate (click here).

Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers does not have a dealer network. However, their owners can be found nationwide, and if you’re not in the North Carolina region, it’s safe to say you can find owners in your area to check theirs out. But mark your calendars if you’re on the New England area, as they will be at the Springfield, Massachusetts RV, Camping, and Outdoor Show, February 14-17, 2020 – click here for details. They will have on hand a Polar Bear, Grizzly Bear, and Kodiak Stealth.

But if you can make it to their home base in Pilot Mountain, NC, you’ll get to see everything there. To learn more, visit their website at https://www.rustictrailteardrops.com, or visit them at 1281 West Dodson Mill Road, Pilot Mountain, North Carolina, or give them a call at (336)444–4017.

And to give you an idea how a Rustic Trail Teardrop Camper is built, check out this cool time lapse video. As you can see, the crew there enjoys what they do and puts together a well built product. My take: Buy with confidence.

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Small Trailer Snapshot: The Lance 1475

This summer I made a trip Mount Vernon, Indiana, a city in the southwest tip of the Hoosier state, to visit one of my favorite small trailer dealers, Gerton Auto Sales. Owner John Gerton recently became a Lance travel trailer dealer this past year and being the only Lance dealer in Indiana, I had to take a trip to the Ohio River city to check them out.My focus was on the Lance 1475, a unit that’s been out a couple years now. It started out as a no-slide, 19’8″ single axle couple’s camper with two captain’s chairs for the primary seating. Since that first year, they’ve added a short slide out on the curb side of the trailer, replacing the two captains chairs with a sofa paired with two Lagun tables. When I first heard about this floorplan with a slide out on the door side, I was a little skeptical. I’ve seen a lot of trailers with deep slides on the door side that intrude into your outdoor sitting area. But not the case with the slide on the 1475, as it is around a foot or so, and the intrusion into your campsite is minimal.

 

 

Key Features:  PVC roof, Azdel interior paneling (instead of luan wood), and interiors are made of Euro-Lite™ which is a light weight and formaldehyde-free product that is imported from Europe. One key option is the All Weather Package, which includes enclosed, insulated, and heated holding tanks, plus insulated hatch doors. The bathroom features a curved shower (with skylight) to better utilize space, as well as a foot flush toilet and a vanity. The refrigerator offers 5 cubic feet of space in a 3-way (propane, 12 volts, and 110) power option with separate doors for both the freezer and the refrigerator. The kitchen gives you a 3-burner flush mount stove with glass cover, with the option available for an oven. The deep, round undermount sink features a residential single lever faucet with a pull-out sprayer. Optional is the microwave that features a flat bottom, which eliminates the need for the usual rotating microwave plate.

Key Specs: With a dry weight of 2600 lbs (before options), a GVWR of 3700 lbs, a 250 lbs dry hitch weight, and an overall length of 19’8”, the 1475 is a hit in the small trailer community. The fresh tank is 26 gallons, grey tank 26 gallons, and the black tank is 26 gallons. Structural dimensions:

Floor Length 14’10”
Overall Length 19’8″
Exterior Width 84-3/8″
Exterior Height w/Optional 13.5M A/C 9’10”
Interior Height 78″

Why I Like It: The designers at Lance laid out the Lance 1475 very well, given the overall size limitations. There’s easy access to storage underneath the front queen bed thanks to a handy door underneath the side of the bed. Also, you’ll find a pantry next to the refrigerator as you walk in, plus overhead cabinets above the kitchen counter as well as cabinets and drawers below the kitchen. Above the sofa (or rockers depending on which floorplan you choose) you’ll find additional cabinets. Above the bed you’ll find a full width shelf for storage which has a netting in front to secure those items.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a huge fan of the trailers Lance offers. I’ve been hearing from frustrated RVers for years how they want the trailers they spend good money on to last more than a few years without having to continually the service department of their RV dealer. From what I’ve seen from Lance over the years, they are one of those rare exceptions. The proof is in the build, and the fit & finish of the Lance 1475 is as good as it gets. Lance is a brand that when you buy one, you keep it for a long time.

 

The MSRP on the Lance 1475 slide out is around $42,000, and as we know, no one pays MSRP. For more information on the Lance 1475, visit the Lance website at: http://lancecamper.com. And to support a true mom & pop dealership, check out our friends at Gerton Auto Sales at http://gertonautosales.com.

photos courtesy myself and Lance Camper

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2019 Manufacturers Open House Recap

With another RV manufacturers open house in the books, the industry continues to push ahead with new models, new floor plans, and new innovations on the horizon. This year I spent two days at the event, and I’m glad I did. One day just isn’t enough time to hit all of Thor and Forest River, as well as visiting the smaller manufacturers. Next year I’ll be sure to make it a two day affair to get everything in. For this post, I’m just going to give an overview and a few thoughts in this post. I’ll work on some individual reviews in the months to come.

What I’ve noticed from last week is that in the small trailer arena, more and more manufacturers are going with a Murphy bed in a lot of their lines. Demand for this option is strong among consumers who wish to have some versatility in their trailers, and the industry is listening. I was somewhat cool at best with them a few years ago. Just seemed a hassle, but the more I’ve seen of them, the options they provide for seating has sold me on them. And considering we’re all here for small trailers, we know our options are limited on seating in a trailer that’s 20 feet or less, so the Murphy bed, dare I say, in some instances is a necessity depending on how many you’re camping with.One of the most unique things I saw came from the folks at inTech RV. They have found a way to put a cassette toilet INSIDE their Luna teardrop trailer. I’ve wracked my brain and I sure can’t think I’ve ever seen a permanent toilet inside a teardrop before. Will it be a hit? Time will tell. When I posted a video I shot of it on The Small Trailer Enthusiast Facebook page, opinions were mixed. Even though it is enclosed after use, some who responded wanted no part of their head next to a toilet while they were sleeping. Others said it was a great idea and not having a toilet has prevented them from buying a teardrop in the past. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with it if it were just me camping in it. But knowing my wife, there’s no way she would use it if I were in there, and she certainly wouldn’t want to be in there if I were using it. I have a hunch that’s probably the common opinion with most married couples. I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of Canadian manufacturers make it to the show trying to expand their dealer network in the United States. Both Pro-Liteand Helio had a nice mix of trailers on hand. There are a handful of U.S. dealers that carry both manufacturers, and hopefully we’ll see more after this show. They offer a few different perspectives from the usual you find in U.S. built trailers.I’ve heard for a couple years now about the plans for the Little Guy Micro Max from Xtreme Outdoors.The prototype didn’t disappoint. If you like the Serro Scotty trailers from the 1960’s with the drop floors, you will see some of that same design in the Micro Max. It will go over with a lot of consumers in the market for something lightweight (1700 lbs) that you can stand up in. It’s just 16’3″ from hitch to tail, and the best part? With a 6’6″ exterior height, it will easily fit in most garages, saving a lot of people precious money in offsite storage fees. After a few minor tweaks, look for production to begin sometime in late Spring of 2020. Another trend I saw last week was that of the rear entry trailer gaining steam. We know the Aliner Ascape has been around a few years now, but I counted 3 new ones from different manufacturers, including Gulf Stream’s Amer-Lite, Riverside Retro, and Cherokee’s Wolf Pup. And all were a bit different from won another, yet with the same general layout. I’ll be watching these to see if they garner public acceptance in the small trailer community. Personally, I’d have no problem with one. I like the uniqueness of the design, and if you’re in a site that backs up to the woods, you get a sense of privacy. Plus, it’s just something different and I applaud the designers for coming up with something that’s new and refreshing.Overall I’m happy with what I’m seeing. Even the entry level stick & tin models continue to fine tune their lines and make them look a little less entry level. I really liked what I saw from the R-pod192. Honestly, it was the one that really made me wish my wife and I were in the market, because it hit a lot of buttons for me. That will be one of the first features I do when I start putting these together in posts in the months to come. I also liked the new Coachmen Catalina Expedition, a No Boundarieswith rear twin beds, and an innovative unit from Palominocalled the Revolve, which is powered by multiple lithium batteries as well as solar. I got a lot of material to do a ton of blog posts on in the coming months. Now it’s just finding the time to get it done!

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Xtreme Outdoors moving forward with Little Guy brand

Earlier this week, I had a chance to talk to Joe Kicos, founder of Little Guy Trailers, regarding some of the changes happening with them since the assets of parent company Liberty Outdoors were purchased by Xtreme Outdoors – http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2019/07/28/xtreme-outdoors-purchases-liberty-outdoors-assets/.

Production is still happening with their three models they’ve had – the Max, Mini Max, and Camp Rover – albeit at a slower pace. And that pace is due to Xtreme Outdoors using their expertise in operations to re-imagine the way the factory in Somerset, Pennsylvania functions from start to finish.

Several steps have already been made at the factory to redefine the Little Guy brand, including the hiring of a new plant manager with a manufacturing background, as well as being an RVer himself for over 30 years. Also a major change is a total revamping of the warranty department. One of the pain points with customers has been a responsive warranty department, and that’s one of the things being address by the new ownership.

While talking to Kicos, he stressed how Extreme Outdoors’ number one priority is the customer experience. This is why they’ve temporarily scaled back production in an effort to work out the bugs that have plagued Little Guy and streamline the production process itself. An example of the financial commitment Extreme Outdoors has brought to the table is the addition of a rain booth to the tune of some $80,000. Leaks have been an issue for some Little Guy owners over the last two years, and the upcoming rain booth will be a big improvement as it will be a high pressure system that will hit each trailer from various angles, simulating a rain storm while traveling down a highway.

While the changes have not been fully implemented, they have a plan in place to regain the confidence of their dealers, customers, and vendors. And expect some new models to hit the market next year in the Micro Max, as well as the likelihood that the myPod will be reintroduced at some point in 2020.

As for Joe Kicos, despite the fact he’s no longer an owner, he is still on board with the title of Director of Sales. He still owns the popular teardropshop.com website, where you can find all sorts of teardrop and camping supplies. And with that, he’ll be able to focus on the marketing of the Little Guy brand, which is what he did for more than 10 years before they took production in house back in 2017.

Extreme Outdoors will be on hand at the RV dealers open house in Elkhart in late September, and I’ll be spending some time there to give you a sneak peek at their latest offerings, including the Micro Max.

To get another viewpoint on the changes at Extreme Outdoors, Paul Chamberlain of Beckley’s Camping Center in Thurmont, MD paid a visit to the factory in Somerset this week to interview some of the key players at Extreme Outdoors and get their take on what lies ahead.

To find out more on Xtreme Outdoors and Little Guy, visit their website at goxtoutdoors.com.

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Xtreme Outdoors purchases Liberty Outdoors assets

Announced late Saturday on their Facebook page, Uniontown, Ohio based Liberty Outdoors announced the selling of their assets to Xtreme Outdoors, LLC.

From the Facebook posting:

“On July 24th, 2019, Xtreme Outdoors, LLC completed the acquisition of the assets of Liberty Outdoors, LLC. Xtreme Outdoors will be focused on improving the quality, dealer and customer experience of the Little Guy brand of trailers. A number of the experienced industry staff have agreed to transition over to Xtreme Outdoors. Warranty claims on trailers sold earlier will continue to be honored.

The principals behind Xtreme Outdoors have been successful, individual (not private equity) business owners for over 20 years – they like to own and operate businesses for long periods of time. They have the background to provide substantial operational and financial backing to the business.”

Liberty Outdoors produces the Little Guy Max, Mini Max and the recently released Camp Rover, which will continue to be built in the current manufacturing facility in Somerset, Pennsylvania.

I’m interested to see what this means for the existing Little Guy lines as well as the planned Serro Scotty. My guess is that the initial focus will be on fine tuning the quality before we see any new models hit the market, as well as improving customer and dealer relations. I’ve read and heard firsthand from several frustrated dealers and customers in recent months of communication issues with Little Guy, so here’s hoping for them it will be a positive change.

As I hear more on this acquisition I’ll post it here. In the meantime, the new website for Xtreme Outdoors can be found here: goxtoutdoors.com

 

 

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