Known for 30 plus years as an A-frame fold down trailer company, Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania based Aliner is set to bring to the small trailer market an unconventional (for Aliner) travel trailer called the Ascape in 2017.
The Ascape is fairly unique for a trailer in its micro-trailer class, of which that class is rapidly expanding among manufacturers. It has a seldom seen rear entry door, with a drop floor which allows just over 6 feet of headroom yet keeping the total exterior height at under 7 1/2 feet. The walls are constructed with an .030 exterior aluminum skin and high-tech Azdel composites.
“The Ascape is a progressive product that we are sure will not disappoint. For such a small trailer, the space inside is very welcoming,” said Brett Randall, President of Aliner. “Working together with the team members at Aliner, we feel this will truly please that market that has been waiting for a lighter concept.”
The Ascape measures in at 13 feet long and 1350 lbs. It will come in a basic and plus model. The plus model will include a potty, A/C, audio/visual package and exterior awning. As of this writing, the MSRP is to be determined, and other specs, such as tank sizes, are not yet available.
The Ascape will debut next week at the national RVIA trade show in Louisville, which I’ll be attending. I’ll be sure to give it a look and let you know my thoughts.
Some ten plus years ago before I ever became an RVer, my wife and I pondered how cool it’d be to get a teardrop trailer one day. I remember many nights scoping out the various teardrop websites and thinking of how cool it’d be to own the Airstream of teardrops, a Camp-Inn.
But reality always set in and that dream kept getting put off until it was virtually forgotten. However, things changed in September of 2009 when over the span of a weekend in Missouri we saw a great looking Route 66 inspired Pleasant Valley teardrop and a Dutchmen T@B.
After having the luxury of comparing both a traditional teardrop to a T@B over the same weekend, we discussed the pros and cons of both on our drive back home to Indiana. We decided if we were going to do this, it’d be a T@B, and the following weekend sure enough we had our own T@B sitting in our driveway after a purchase from a dealer in Elkhart, Indiana.
As newbies to the RV lifestyle, we soon realized that despite the coolness of the T@B, we needed a little more space…and a toilet. Seven months later, enter a 2010 Serro Scotty HiLander, just about the same size, but with a wet bath and a smidge more space.
But as some of you have followed our story over the years, you’ll know that once grandson 2.0 came along, even the Scotty became too small, as we wanted to make sure both of the boys had a chance to have childhood memories of camping with us. So now we call our 2016 Shasta Oasis 18BH our RV of choice.
The Shasta has given us a good family camper with a couple of bunks, bathroom, queen bed…and a vanilla, generic look compared to the T@B and Scotty we had before it. Gone were the days when it’d take me 45 minutes setting up our campsite, as 35 of those minutes were spent talking to a passerby about the T@B or Scotty. No one’s given a second look at the Shasta. I’ve realized that socialization at campgrounds over the trailer I had was a big part of my camping experience, and one I missed. And after my birthday this past June, one which is taking me closer to 50 and farther away from 40, I realized mid-life crisis was in full effect. I had to do something to tame it. And so with my wife’s blessing, we did.
We put an order in on a 2017 Riverside RV Retro, Jr 509 back in late June. I know a few teardrop builders in the industry, and as you can see on our Manufacturers Page, there are a lot of them throughout the country. And make no bones about it, they build some excellent products. However, I’ve had a previous working relationship with Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis, a Riverside dealer. After inspecting some at their dealership, we soon realized the Retro, Jr gave us what we wanted at an excellent price point.
Riverside offers a few color schemes to choose from, but after going back and forth on what we wanted, we realized we needed to go with the white with aqua trim with baby moon hubcaps to pay homage to our former Scotty. But on our first camping trip a couple of days after we took possession, it was like old times. At a busy Starve Hollow campground, it got its share of looks and even some pictures. And once we start taking it out more next year, I’m sure I’ll be speaking of its virtues to any fellow camper interested.
Now for the nuts and bolts of the Retro, Jr. Total length is 13’9″ and dry weight fully optioned is 1,023 lbs. Those options we ordered are air conditioning, sink/stove combo, spare tire package, electric brakes, and a few other minor ones, including a USB/12 volt charging port and solar prep. One thing I did get on my own was a mountable jockey wheel at Menards for about $25 that swings up or down, depending on whether you’re hauling or ready to move it by hand.
The interior bed dimensions are a nice 60″ wide and 76″ long, more than ample enough for two average sized adults. We added a 2″ memory foam mattress topper from Walmart for some extra comfort. There are also storage cabinets on the front and rear interior walls, with the rear cabinets a little bit longer than the front, but both sides large enough to handle your typical bags for clothes you’d bring on a weekend camping trip.
The Retro, Jr is now decked out with all LED lighting, inside and out with the exception of the over the door exterior light. There are two main overhead lights as well as two reading lights underneath the front cabinet that are on either side of the USB/12 volt charging station.
The air conditioning unit is more than adequate for anyone in just about any climate. It was about the time we ordered ours in June when we were informed that Riverside had done away with the interior window-unit style air conditioner in favor of an 11,000 BTU roof mounted Dometic unit. It should be interesting next summer to see how it does in really hot weather.
Moving to the rear kitchen area. With going with the sink/stove combo option, that also meant we’d have to have a 5 gallon propane tank on the front, and in the rear hatch, we’d need the 17 gallon fresh water tank as well as water pump. But should you decide not to get the sink/stove combo, the entire rear storage area is yours, as the fresh water tank and water pump wouldn’t be included.
The rear kitchen area offers ample counter space, an electrical outlet for a microwave, coffee maker, or any other electric kitchen device, as well as a decent sized cabinet for utensils and other small cookware. Also included is an LED light for those late night cooking ventures.
Now one important upgrade that we went with makes our Retro, Jr…as far as I can tell…a one of a kind (for now). And that is the interior Retro package that we asked for. And that is the wood grain interior and kitchen area finish as well as the black & white checkered flooring. This is typically something that does not come on a Retro, Jr and isn’t listed as an option. I’ve scoured every photo and ad for these for the past 5 months and I’ve not seen one with this option. So a typical Retro, Jr interior would look like this:
Kind of a no brainer to go with the wood grain/checker board look for about $300, don’t you think?
Now back to some specs, the Retro, Jr sits on a 1500 lbs axle, supported by two 13″ wheels. The underside is enclosed by the usual black Darco material to keep out moisture. The 30 amp power cord could be a little longer to suit me, so be prepared to purchase an extension for it as it’s probably about 15′ long.
Construction-wise it appears to be built pretty well. It’s got an aluminum cage with a steel frame, aluminum sidewalls and a fiberglass roof. It tows extremely well and at just 1,023 lbs, can be towed by a lot of vehicles. As you can tell, this is a teardrop with doors on each side, which isn’t always the case with some manufacturers. Each door has a deep tented, vertical sliding window for some good cross ventilation and are draped with color coordinated shades for privacy. The one drawback with going with the rooftop air conditioner is that it eliminates the possibility to have an A/C as well as a roof top vent fan. However, a Fantastic Fan is standard if you don’t order the A/C. And one other request I wish I would’ve made is to have an exterior porch light over each door, as they only put the one over the curbside door.
But overall, it appears to be a solid trailer with a good build quality. And coming from me, that says something, as I was rather critical of Riverside’s sloppiness on their Retros when I first saw them at the RVIA trade show in Louisville in 2011. However, in subsequent years, I commented on how they seemed to have got their act together on fit & finish for this price point, and the fact that I’m buying from them should show how much I believe in how they’ve improved.
Depending on where you are in the U.S., you can likely expect to see a Retro, Jr fetch an MSRP starting in the $9,000’s, but your results may vary. I’ll keep you all posted on how things are going on it in the near future. And if you’re wondering, yes, we are a two-trailer family. We’ll be keeping our Shasta for when we take family trips with the grandboys. But the Retro, Jr is for me, or me and my wife to play with. I kind of liken it to this: The Shasta is kind of like a minivan that a guy has to drive throughout the week. And the Retro, Jr is that guy’s sportscar that he drives on the weekends. Hope you follow that analogy!
I’ve put together a walk around video of it that you can find below. Feel free to shoot me any comments or questions either below this post or on the YouTube video. As always, thanks for reading.
A long time ago, many jobs ago, the CFO of the company I worked for once told me, “Pat, just because someone has an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good one”. Fortunately he wasn’t referring to me, just giving me advice that’s stuck with me all these years. When the Winnebago Winnie Drop was introduced a couple of years ago, that advice came to the surface of my thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Winnebago Industries. Not only has Winnebago been synonymous with RVing for decades, but their products are synonymous with quality. And it could be I’ve had an affection for Winnebago for some 40 years when my mom and dad bought me the famous Tonka Winnebago Indian that came out in the early 1970’s that I got for a Christmas present when I was a young lad. I really wish I still had that thing!
But when the Winnie Drop first came out, I was initially excited about Winnebago introducing a small trailer that was eye catching, but the more I looked at one, the less excited I got. I just could not get past the graphics and the interior color. Let’s face it, the graphics were nothing short of a cluttered mess that left the word “garish” embarrassed.
Instead of enhancing the Winnie Drop, these graphics did nothing more than distract from it. With the size and shape, as well as the exterior colors offered by Winnebago, the graphic package never did this trailer any favors. Up until now.
This late 2017 graphics update for the Winnie Drop is exactly what this trailer needed. Now what do we have? A trailer that is accented by an excellent balance of size, shape, sidewall color and a much less vocal graphics package. Even the new Winnie Drop logo on the side is very nicely done with a simple arch incorporating the Winnebago “W” as a wheel.
Aside from the new graphics on the Winnie Drop, Winnebago has also increased the number of available colors it comes in. As Josh Winters of Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan tells me, “If yellow isn’t your color, then remember it only comes in six other amazing colors!” Up until now, the only colors it came in were cherry, blue, white, and platinum. In addition to those, you can also get it in orange, champagne, and the lemon color shown above.
Now hopefully Winnebago will look into going with a lighter interior instead of the, as I call it, “brownish-gray” that they’ve had since its inception.
For those of you new to Winnie Drops, Josh put together another one of his stellar walk through videos of the Winnie Drop with the new exterior graphics. Be sure to visit the Haylett RV site for more info on their line of Winnebagos in stock.
The Small Trailer Enthusiast is a home for news on small travel trailers, typically 20' or less. Here you will find info on new models, industry news relating to small trailers, and any other stories I think you might find interesting. Have some small trailer news you'd like to pass along?