Monthly Archives: November 2011

49th Annual RVIA Trade Show

November 29-December 1 marks the RVIA’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Over 60 manufacturers and over 200 suppliers will be on hand for three days of product debuts and exhibition. I was fortunate enough for the RVIA to offer me an invitation to attend…and attend I will!

Most of the nation’s leading recreational vehicle manufacturers will be on hand, as well as many of those who produce small travel trailers, such as Little Guy Worldwide, Livin’ Lite, Riverside RV, and the bigger manufacturers such as Gulf Stream and Forest River. One booth I’m interested in visiting is that of Travel Lite. They’re a truck camper company, but will be debuting their first endeavor in the travel trailer arena with the new Idea travel trailer, which will come in lengths from 16 to 18 feet. Travel Lite has plans to donate a portion of each Idea sale to Habitat for Humanity.

The annual Louisville trade show has always been a showcase where new models are debuted. Last year, Riverside’s Bob Taulbee introduced the world to the Riverside Retro, which is in production today with a new floor plan soon to come off the line.

(photo courtesy the Goshen News)

However, not all units that debut in Louisville ever see the light of production. Case in point, in 2008, Airstream debuted the Scout concept trailer. Highly retro in design, but for whatever reason never made it to production.

What other new trailers that will debut at this year’s RVIA trade show will be answered in the coming days. Stay tuned, as  I’ll have plenty to update you on.

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A Look at the Innovative Teal Camper

At first look at the Colorado based Teal Camper, you might mistake it for a fiberglass unit built in the early 1970′s. Upon further inspection, you’ll find it’s not only brand new, but also is quite innovative in design. Made of molded polyethylene that are injected with insulating foam, the Teal Camper uses multiple panels that are interlocked together and mounted on a typical utility trailer.

The design is the creation of Larry Drake of Loveland, Colorado. The idea of the Teal Camper came to him one day in 2009 when he  looked at his 4′ X 8′ utility trailer and thought how it would be nice to have a camper he could slip on & off and still be able to use the trailer as a utility trailer. Combined with the weight of the utility trailer, the Teal Camper checks in at under 1,000 lbs, making it towable by many 4 cylinder vehicles.

What makes the Teal Camper even more versatile is that it will also fit in the bed of a pick-up truck, making it a traditional truck camper.

Options are aplenty. The basic unit comes bare, but you can add “modules” for cabinets, bed, dinette, and kitchen. Also standard is a pop-top roof that expands to give an interior headroom of 6’2″. Also optional are fixed or operable plexiglass windows.

Prices vary depending on options chosen and size of the unit, but expect to pay between $5,000-$6,000 , and that’s only for the camper. You’ll have to provide your own utility trailer, which can be had at most farm equipment stores for $1,000 or less, as well as the floor. Teal Camper offers units that will fit a 4′ X 8′, 5′ X 8′, or 5′ X 10′ utility trailer.

Assembly of the Teal Camper takes just over an hour and can be done with a simple screwdriver. Once assembled, the entire unit is secured with a heavy duty cargo strap around the belt line of the camper.

Given the fact production is scheduled to begin in January 2012, the book on this unique travel trailer has yet to be written. It will be worth watching the progress they make and how they deal with the growing pains that are sure to come, and to an extent the pains they’ve already been dealing with. But more important is the question of public acceptance to what will undoubtedly be something they’ve never seen.

Images courtesy Teal Camper

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A Tribute to the Campfire & Bak-Pak Camper

In 2008 when Sierra Custom Interiors of Bristol, Indiana became the manufacturer of Serro Scotty Worldwide trailers, it wasn’t long before they too came out with their own line of small campers for the 2009 model year called the Campfire…

and the entry level Bak-Pak:

(photo courtesy Missouri Teardrops)

Designed by Sierra owners Mike & Greg Greene, the 12’9″ trailers were a throwback to the old canned ham trailers from the 1940′s-60′s. They featured air conditioning, furnace, and optional microwave, toilet, and range. Serro Scotty also got in on the act with their 2009 line-up featuring the Serro Scotty Pup…

(photo courtesy Shane Wolfe)

and the Silver Series Pup:

Both Serro Scotty models were identical to the Sierra versions with respect to shape, floor plan and everything else except the badging and, in the case of the Silver Pup, the silver aluminum. Also, the regular Pup featured the signature Scotty turquoise and white.

For the 2010 models, Sierra came out with the Campfire 15, a longer version of its 13 model, that featured a toilet and optional wet bath.

The final entry in the Campfire lineup was the Campfire XL, a 16′ unit with a similar floor plan to that of the Serro Scotty HiLander.

You may notice that I’ve been speaking of the Sierra Campfire and Bak-Pak in the past tense. Unfortunately, that’s the case. Early in 2011, the Greenes decided to pull the plug on their travel trailer ventures and stick with building custom interiors for horse trailers. As we wrote in September 2011, this decision not only included their own line of trailers, but also meant all Serro Scotty models as well, leaving Bill Kerola to find a new manufacturer for the entire Scotty line.

Neither the Bak-Pak nor the Campfire were mass produced, but those who own them are loyal to their camper and get many inquiries from the curious at the campgrounds. There aren’t many other campers on the market (with the possible exception of the T@B ) that offer a compact, lightweight package like the Campfire and Bak-Pak do. And while a rebirth of the Sierra camper division is unlikely, current owners cling to the hope that one day they can remove their orphan label. Afterall, it wouldn’t be the first time a brand came back to life.

The Campfire website, once a fine site with plenty of pictures, specs, and floor plans, now reads more like an obituary. But all is not lost. There are still Campfires, Bak-Paks, and even a few brand new Scotty Pups (at present time) still available for purchase on ebay, Craigslist, or rvtraderonline.com. There is also a Yahoo Group where owners of the Sierra-built Scottys and Campfires/Bak-Paks can congregate for discussion. And so we say so long to yet another line of campers that didn’t make it…for now.


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Gulf Stream Adds Smaller Floorplan to 2012 Visa Line-Up

One of my favorite mass produced trailers on the market the past couple of years has been the Gulf Stream Visa. In the first two years of production, their floorplans have measured 22’11 and 25’11 from hitch to tail. For 2012, a shorter model, the 17RWD,  measuring an even 20′ is available.

The Visa offers a lightweight, aluminum framed trailer with some very sleek exterior design, with hints of a European caravan. The 17RWD, like all the Visa models, comes standard with a seamless, one peice fiberglass roof as well as sidewalls. That, coupled with the welded aluminum framed walls, helps hold the dry weight in the 2600 lbs (tongue weight 230 lbs) range, opening up many doors for tow vehicle options.

Inside the 17RWD, you’ll find a rear dinette that converts to a bed,  bathroom with tub/shower, microwave, Dometic refrigerator, 16K BTU furnace, dual basin kitchen sink, two burner stove, plenty of overhead cabinet space, and a front corner queen bed, with storage underneath.  Another key feature is that the Visa is a Certified Green trailer, so it’s rather earth friendly as well as one of the best looking travel trailers on the market today. The MSRP for the Visa 17RWD is in the mid-upper teens.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NZOrmr_4Go]

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Forest River Forms Owners Group

Mega RV manufacturer Forest River recently announced the formation of an owners group. FROG (Forest River Owners Group) is a dues-free group for owners of any of the Forest River family of recreational vehicles, including their line-up of small travel trailers such as the Wolf Pup, r-Pod, EVO, and Rockwood Mini-Lite.

The website contains info on FROG rallies, tech tips, camping tips, and other useful info for Forest River RV owners. The first international FROG rally is scheduled for August 2012 in Goshen, Indiana.

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