51st Annual RVIA Trade Show recap

The 51st annual RVIA trade show has come & gone for another year. While yet again the majority of manufacturers showed up with little for us small trailer enthusiasts to view, all was made right by the quality of the small campers that were on display. I’ll just focus on some of the newer models that were at the show.

First off, Starcraft is venturing into the hardsided pop-up camper market with the new Comet Hardside. It comes in four different floorplans ranging from 16 to 22 feet, with the 22 footer having a 63″ X 84″ storage deck on the front end. Starcraft has a loyal following of pop-up owners, and with the addition of a hardsided pop-up model, they should see a migration over to the “hard side”. Aliner has the reputation as the standard bearer for hardsided campers, but the competition not only includes now Starcraft, but also Chalet, Rockwood, and Flagstaff.

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When the Palomino PaloMini was first introduced earlier this year, it made its debut with just a few floorplans and none of which had a toilet or wetbath. This drew the ire of some when I posted a link to this on our Facebook page. However, we were told then by Mount Comfort RV that wetbath floorplans were in the works, and that turned out to be more than true. The PaloMini now features an impressive eight floorplans, five of which indeed have a wetbath. The eight models range from 16’10” to 21’8″ in length and weights from 1813 lbs to 2945 lbs. I really liked this new addition to the small trailer market. I’d venture to guess the PaloMini will be competition for Forest River’s r-pod.

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Little Guy Worldwide was in attendance with the usual arsenal of teardrop trailers, but they also brought the two new additions to the family: The T@G and the myPod. The T@G can best be described as an undersized T@B Clamshell. There are no specs yet on the Little Guy website, but the T@G weighs in just over 900 lbs. You can view some interior photos of the T@G at their website here.

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The myPod is a single piece, fiberglass sleeper that weighs between 515-600 lbs, depending on options. The total length of the myPod is 11′ , cabin length is 100″, and interior cabin width is just under 5 feet.  In the interior, the floor, walls, and ceiling are covered in carpet, and includes a Fantastic Fan, and optional air conditioner and optional 19″ TV & entertainment center. You can get one in white, red, blue, silver, and black, with also the option of providing your own paint code for a custom color.  And if you were curious, no, the myPod does not have a cooking area. It’s strictly a sleeper.

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Before I write on another trio of trailers I saw, I need to do a little more research on who actually builds them. That would be the Trillium fiberglass trailers. Now, there’s a Trillium built in the U.S. in Arizona, then there are two that are built in Canada. From what I understand, the three that were in Louisville were from Great West Vans from Canada. They were really nice units, regardless of where they were built. I’ll do some more research and may end up doing a separate blog post in the future about the Trillium.

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And for my last review from the show, Riverside RV. When I first laid my eyes on a Riverside Retro model at the 2011 show, I was quite disappointed. that review can be found in the tail end of this post: http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2011/12/03/a-day-at-the-rvia-show-part-2/  I can honestly say, I’ve now changed my tune with Riverside. Gone is the sloppy caulking and uneven walls. They had several units at the show and I checked several for the flaws I wrote about in 2011. I won’t say that someone there read my critique and made changes, but they made the necessary improvements in quality to get me on board. I talked with Riverside owner Bob Taulbee at length at the show. He admitted that increased production is what has helped the improvement of his trailers from two years ago when just a handful a month were produced. Now, that handful has grown to about 1,000 units a year. As he told me, the increased repetition has helped his workers build a better product. I would have to agree.

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Riverside has some new floorplans of their popular Retro model now. Hot off the line is the Retro, Jr, which is an oversized teardrop trailer, similar in size to the T@G. The Retro, Jr. weighs in at just over 900 lbs and fits to its Retro name with the white and turquoise paint scheme and baby moon hubcaps. Other color options are available, but this particular paint scheme really has it all going.

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The Retro model 155 is their first Retro model that was introduced in 2011. Like the Retro, Jr, the white & turquoise paint scheme is new in 2013, and is a big improvement over the silver & red combination. The 155 is 14’9″ and comes with a rear bed, front dinette, wet bath, microwave, air conditioner, and can come with either  a drop floor or flat floor, which raises the overall height of the trailer. However, as I mentioned in that 2011 post, that street side of the trailer still has the same “busy” look as I mentioned, but I could learn to live with it.

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The model I really liked in the Riverside stable was the 177 floorplan. It’s similar to the 155, but it’s taller, longer, and has a really nice rear island bed. The 177 is 18’6″, just over 2500 lbs, and 9 1/2′ tall. The plumbing includes a 20 gallon fresh water tank, 32 gallon gray water tank, and a 10 gallon black water tank. If I was in the market for something right now, I’d give strong consideration to the 177. Of course I’m all for anything that’s retro and nostalgic, so this would be a pretty easy choice for me.

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So there you have it, folks. Overall, I was happy with what I saw in terms of options available to those of us interested in the small stuff. If you’re going to be in the market for a new trailer in 2014, you’re going to have all sorts of options to choose from. And I hope you’ll remember to use the “Manufacturers” link at the top of every page on the site to browse and compare trailers. But like I stress, whenever you research trailers, do all your homework. Compare features, join online forums to get the opinions of current owners, and make a decision you’re comfortable with!

All photos except for the Comet were provided by Jennifer Bremer, who was along for this trip. For more pictures from Louisville, be sure to visit her Flickr page:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadtripmemories/sets/72157638380197585/

As always, thanks for reading and get ready for those winter RV shows!

 

 

4 Comments

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4 Responses to 51st Annual RVIA Trade Show recap

  1. Jay

    Thanks for doing a great job of covering RIVA from a small trailer perspective. Your photog did a wonderful job too, especially w/ the hard to do interior shots. Out of my new series Scotty now (and not w/o regret!) and greatly intrigued by the New Tab clamshell bath model. Love all the windows & the remarkable worksmanship!

  2. The buzz is really out there on this great little trailer, I can’t believe the amount of positive response from so many happy customers. Everywhere from here in Michigan all the way to Oregon we are shipping these replica units. And I must say that sea foam green is still winning here, its a fun little competition we are having. So everybody looking for red or yellow let us know!!

    Thanks to everyone involved

    http://www.1961shastaairflyte.com Joe Anderson 616-375-0938

    Read more: Shasta RV to reissue 1961 Shasta Airflyte – 1,941 special edition units launch in September – Retro Renovation

  3. William Allen

    From a Tin-Can Enthusiast: Thanks

    As a fan of the tin can look, the Retro 177 provides the grace of the simpler campers with the construction and convenience of today’s most modern campers. I have enjoyed camping in a 1972 12-foot Serro Scotty Sportsman, using it for the last ten years. Age has slowly taken her – she had approached the point to where I could not adequately repair her.
    I have been on/off considering a new camper for the last two years, looking on line and comparing models. During this time I have been continually coming back to the Retro line. Becoming very on-line acquainted with the Retro 155 & 177 (I was fortunate to find a RV dealership close enough (4 hrs away)).
    The last couple of camping summers I have come across a one or two of these campers in Mid-West state parks. The first time I actually stepped inside a Retro was at Elk River RV. Honestly pictures don’t do it justice. The moment I stepped in – I new I wanted one. The White Water Retro 177 is outstanding. There is so much room, both the exterior and interior storage is great. The features fit well together – making this camper very enjoyable.
    There are no disappointments to this camper! Pulling it home on I-494 was a challenge, this only because of the newness of its size. I am so looking forward to this seasons Fall camping and Winter camping!
    New owner of Retro 177
    W.Allen

    • Pat

      Congrats on the new Retro! The 177 is a well laid out floorplan. Keep us posted on how it is once you get a few camping trips under your belt.

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