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2018 RV Manufacturers Open House recap

This years RV manufacturers open house in Elkhart, Indiana offered a lot of the same small trailer floorplans that we all know and love, but as usual there were some new introductions as well. Despite some heavy rains on Tuesday that made parts of the display areas quite the swamp, I covered just about everyone I found with the exception of Winnebago, which I’ve been told had nothing new but a narrow bodied fifth wheel. I was fortunate to get inside the Forest River display this year, thanks to Cody Schade with the No Boundaries/R-pod division. I’m going to touch briefly on some of the new and/or updated offerings I saw. Down the road I’ll likely feature a few of these for more of an in depth analysis.

KZ RV had one new floorplan that caught my eye. The Escape E191SS is a narrow bodied with a super slide which supports a dinette as well as a sofa. If this floorplan looks familiar, Cherokee’s Wolf Pup 18TO has this same general floorplan, which came out last year. One stark difference in the two is the back wall. The Wolf Pup leaves the wall open to mount a TV, but the Escape utilizes the back wall for storage cabinets, which is a smart choice considering the overall design limits the amount of places where storage can be engineered into the trailer. Specs on the Escape 191SS can be found here: https://www.kz-rv.com/products/escape-travel-trailers/E191SS.html

At the Jayco display, there were just two Hummingbirds on display: a “box drop” and a larger sized unit. I really liked the floorplan of the larger 17MBS. It’s a murphy bed with a dry bath that shares the back wall with the rear kitchen, and a slide out for the fridge, microwave, and pantry. This is a nice and tidy floorplan. It gives you the flexibility of the murphy bed that, when not in the sofa configuration, converts into a 60″x75″ queen bed. One stand out feature of the Hummingbird 17MBS is the excellent interior storage. More info can be found on the Jayco website here: https://www.jayco.com/products/travel-trailers/2019-hummingbird/17mbs/

At the Gulf Stream display, there were more than enough Vintage Cruisers to go around, as they’re still popular and they show no signs of slowing down. Also on hand in its 2nd year is the Capri, with the addition of baby moons and colored rims instead of last years aluminum rims. Of note, Gulf Stream now offers a 3 year structural warranty. Details on both units can be found at the Gulf Stream website here: https://www.gulfstreamcoach.com/products/light-weight/vintage-cruiser and here: https://www.gulfstreamcoach.com/products/light-weight/capri

At the Little Guy display, there were a handful of Little Guy Max and Mini Max models, as well as one myPod. I was informed by Little Guy owner Joe Kicos that they’re in fine-tuning mode with both models. Their efforts seem to be working as I got an unsolicited comment from one dealer indicating how much they’ve improved since he saw them at the open house in 2017. And that walnut interior option in either model is starting to grow on me. More info can be found on the Little Guy website at https://golittleguy.com

At the inTech RV display, the star of the show was the new Sol. They hustled to get it ready for the show, as the prototype was still being put together the week prior. But that said, it was done and looks like it’s going to be a jaw dropper. It’s not on their website yet, so I don’t have any specs to pass on, but it’s in that 18′-20′ range. The craftsmenship is very good on all the inTech products, including their smaller Flyer and Luna lines. I realized when I was going through display and opening and closing doors and hatches that they remind me a lot of the Camp Lite trailers did several years ago prior to being absorbed by Thor which ultimately killed the brand last year. I always viewed them as one of the best trailers that no one knew about, and inTech has that same feel. However, people are starting to know about them rather quickly.  While the Sol is not currently on their website, it will be soon, so check back there in the weeks to come for more specs and features at http://www.intechrv.com.

The Hymer Touring GT is something I first saw a couple years ago at the Louisville RVIA show. It was nowhere to be found last year at Louisville, but has made its triumphant return at this years open house. News of this over the past couple of years has been sparse, but that should now change as recently it was announced that Thor will be acquiring the Hymer brand. The Touring GT is just about the same as I remember it. It’s definitely a high quality unit, as the upper $20k’s price will indicate. It has the roof that pops up for about a foot of additional head room. It’s light weight at 2500 lbs and total length is just under 19′. More info on the Hymer Touring GT can be found here: https://www.gohymer.com/touring-gt-overview/

At the Aliner display, I was really pleased to see what they’ve done with the Ascape model, as the recently introduced Great Ascape made its debut. The Great Ascape has it all. Previous models of the Ascape has had bits & pieces of various features, but the Great Ascape puts them all together in one floorplan. Hats off! After the shower model came out last year, I was hoping a floorplan would come out that had all the features anyone would want, and that has happened with the Great Ascape and then some. Not only did they include everything such as the TV with soundbar, wet bath, microwave, sink, range, and refrigerator, but they’ve also increased the width some 9″, which despite not being a lot,  makes a big difference. The bed set-up is diverse as well. You can leave it as two twin beds, or convert it to a huge 77″x64″.  To learn more, click on their website here: http://aliner.com/campers/great-ascape-st-shower-model/

At the Lance display, the 1475 and the 1575 continue to shine. The 1575 is still one of my favorite small trailer floor plans with the huge U-shaped slide dinette. And the 1475 still offers the optional sofa slide. Both units are well under 3,000 lbs, making them some of the lightest weight trailers you’ll find with exceptional quality. To learn more about Lance’s trailer lines, visit their website here: https://www.lancecamper.com/travel-trailers

At the nuCamp RV display, it was no secret the push was for the Boondock option of their trailers. The offroad package was featured on the T@G, T@B Clamshell, T@B 320, and T@B 400 and is available in the Lite or Edge package. The Boondock Edge features a Yakima roof rack, 52″ light bar with two spot lights, as well as Marmoleum flooring. Info on the Boondock editions can be found on the nuCamp website at https://tab.nucamprv.com/tab-teardrop-camper/?package=1

I encountered a very nice surprise when I came across the CRUX Expedition Trailers display. The CRUX is that off the beaten path trailer designed for those you won’t likely see next to you at your local state park. The only time you’ll likely see one in the wild is on the highway while it heads to its destination somewhere in the mountains or forests, far from civilization. That’s where this kind of trailer is designed to be, and where those likely to own one want to be. It comes with a wide range of tent options from basic to elaborate, measuring up to 200 square feet. What’s nice about it is that all tents come standard with each trailer. You just pick when configuration you want to set up each time you take it out on your adventure. Can’t say enough good things about what these passionate folks at CRUX are putting together! To learn more, visit the CRUX website at https://www.cruxexpeditiontrailers.com/crux-1600/

This year I was able secure entry in the Forest River compound. A big thanks go out to Cody Schade, manager for the R-pod/No Boundaries division of Forest River for getting me in this year. And with that, let’s talk about R-pod and No Boundaries. I got word of a new R-pod RP191. Never before in this oversized teardrop segment of the small trailer industry have we seen one with dedicated twin beds, which is quickly becoming a desired feature in a travel trailer, especially among older couples. But R-pod has created a big winner with this floor plan, which I’m pretty sure the competition will mimic in short order. The two beds have a night stand centered in between them. The RP191 features a kitchen slide, with a good sized U-shaped rear dinette that converts to a bed for additional sleeping quarters. The decision to go with the smaller wet bath creates a lot more floor space, which in a footprint this small creates a much larger feel inside, which comes in handy when you’re camping with more than two people. At 20’4″ total length, the RP-191 checks in weighing at under 2700 lbs with a generous 1100-plus lbs cargo carrying  capacity I really like this one. You can find out about this and other R-pod floorplans at http://www.forestriverinc.com/product-details.aspx?LineID=173&Image=5054&ShowParent=1&ModelID=4227#Main

 

The No Boundaries (No Bo) line has been on the scene since last year. It’s a line that gives you the flexibility to camp comfortably in some of those areas where you couldn’t and/or wouldn’t typically tow a conventional trailer. Ranging from 10′ “box drop” trailers to bunkhouses that are over 23′ long, there’s a wide range of camping needs that the No Bo can fulfill. The lightweight construction allows for a wide range of 4 and 6 cylinder tow vehicles to pull these. You’ll also have optional roof racks from Rhino Racks that can handle kayaks, bikes, skis, and other outdoors equipment. While the exterior has an outdoorsy feel, the interior gives you a nice contrast to a more conventional look that will make you forget you may be out in the wild, isolated from any camping neighbors. I took a good look at the bunkhouse 19.7. As the owner of a bunkhouse of another brand, I can say the No Bo 19.7 offered some really nice interior features that would make a comfortable camping weekend. I’ll be looking to feature these on a future post, as they’re going to quickly be player in this off road, adventure camping segment that is exploding. To learn more about the No Boundaries line of trailers, visit their website at http://www.forestriverinc.com/travel-trailers/no-boundaries

A big change recently occurred with the 2019 Shasta RV models. Prior to the ’19 models, there were two lines of Shasta: The entry level Oasis and the fancier Revere. Shasta has streamlined things a bit, eliminated both the Oasis and Revere names and blended the two into a line that is simply called “Shasta”. The price points appear to be closer to that of the Oasis, but you get a lot of new features the Oasis didn’t have, such as tub surrounds, mirrored wardrobes, and tiled backsplashes. Also gone are the familiar tans and browns on the exterior, replaced with grays and blues, which seems to be the trend these days with other manufacturers. As a Shasta Oasis owner of a 2016 18BH, I’ve been pleased with our little entry level bunkhouse that we’ve had for 3 camping seasons now. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit jealous of the accoutrements the new Shastas offer. You can view the specs and features of the revamped Shasta at their website: http://shastarving.com/travel-trailers/shasta

As my day at the open house wore on, I was texting with my comrade Josh Winters, aka “Josh the RV Nerd” of Haylett RV of Coldwater, Michigan, the king of the RV walk through video. Josh has done literally thousands of walk through videos over the years and has seen just about everything. So when he tells me there’s a model I need to look at, I listen. That model is the Cherokee Wolf Pup 16PF. And this floorplan does not disappoint. I see this as putting a huge dent in the popular Wolf Pup 16FQ. I’ll just be upfront with this thing: It gives me trailer envy. ‘Nuff said. There’s not any info on the Wolf Pup website on the 16PF, but keep checking their website for when it shows up: http://www.forestriverinc.com/product-details.aspx?LineID=177&Image=5038&ShowParent=1

Towards the end of my day, I made my way to the Flagstaff E-Pro/ Rockwood Geo Pro area. They’re essentially the same trailer with different badging. The E-Pro that I focused on is the Flagstaff E-Pro 15TB. Love this one! This is a modified…and better…version of the 14RK. The 15TB enables you to have the luxury of two twin beds or convert them into a monster king bed. There’s a tidy wet bath next to the front kitchen. This is a great floorplan for the single or couples campers who don’t need even a 22′ trailer to camp comfortably. This is ideal for the lower tow capacity tow vehicles, with a dry weight of under 2500 lbs. Construction on the E-Pro/Geo Pro lines are excellent, with aluminum framed construction and Azdel wall paneling. This floorplan is nice and cozy that gives you all the amenities you need in a tidy little package. Josh did me a favor by doing a walk through on a Geo Pro version that Haylett RV just got in. As I mentioned, the E-Pro is essentially the same thing, so if you’re interested in this floorplan give our friends at Haylett a call and make that trek to southern Michigan!

http://www.forestriverinc.com/travel-trailers/flagstaff-e-pro

 

As late afternoon and a 3 hour drive back home loomed, the 7 hours of walking had taking their toll on my barking dogs. But on my way out of Forest River, I noticed this little gizmo in the Viking camper display. My apologies for not getting a model number off this, as it’s not on the Viking website, but I still think it’s too cool not to share. My guess it’s around 10′-ish long and around 1,000 lbs, or less. But this little micro pop-up packs a punch. It’s got what appears to be a double to queen bed, based on the width of the trailer. But it’s got a propane grill, A/C, furnace, and fridge, as well as some storage cabinets. If you want simple, lightweight camping with a few amenities that likely won’t break the bank, this thing might be up your alley. Keep an eye on the Viking website when this little fella makes its appearance on there: http://coachmenrv.com/product-details.aspx?LineID=67&Image=6738

 

 

So that wraps up my day in Elkhart. There are a lot of offerings in the small trailer segment of the industry. I’ve only highlighted some of the new and unique models for 2019. The mainstay floorplans in the 3,000 lbs and under range are still out there that you’re familiar with. Small trailers are one of the fastest growing segments in the industry as a new generation of RVers enter the market with a different mindset than previous generations. They’re a little more adventure-minded and desire a different style of camping. As it has been the past few years, it’s a GREAT time to be a small trailer enthusiast with the new and innovative models and floorplans the industry is producing. And if you’re reading this website for the first time, don’t forget to look over our Manufacturers page for a comprehensive list of all sorts of small trailers: http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/manufacturers-2/

 

 

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Attendance high for Tearstock rally

The 2018 edition of Tearstock, an annual teardrop and small trailer rally, was the most highly attended Tearstock to date, according to organizers with Liberty Outdoors. Upwards of 275 attendees and 150 trailers converged on Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping in Mackinaw City, Michigan. The four day event attracted teardroppers from not only the Midwest, but as far as New Jersey and Texas.

Thursday night was an indication of how well the attendance was, with some not showing up until Friday. The Duke’s Dogs food truck on hand reported 243 people served, with those not eating could be found sampling various beers and wines provided from various locations by the attendees. Little Guy dealer General RV provided everyone with their choice of brats and hotdogs for the night, as well as having a Little Guy Max and Mini Max on hand to look over.

Friday morning kicked off what was supposed to have been a one hour Camper College, hosted by Girl Camper podcaster Janine Petite and Liberty Outdoors’ Chris Baum. However, thanks to an engaging group of at least 50 attendees, the seminar lasted two hours, and in all likelihood could’ve lasted another hour. The two spoke on not only some features of the Little Guy line of trailers, but also some general RV basics that everyone should know.

While Tearstock was hosted by Liberty Outdoors, which is the parent company of Little Guy Trailers, ParkLiner Trailers, and Serro Scotty Trailers, the event was open to any and all. While there were the expected Little Guy, T@B, and T@G trailers on hand, there were several other brands attending, including Vistabule teardrops, Scamps, and an assortment of other odds & ends.

As for the location, you could not have asked for a more picturesque setting than Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping. Many of their campsites have a great view of Lake Huron, the Mackinac Bridge, and Mackinac Island. I found that many of those who didn’t have a lake view simply brought a chair down to sit along the banks of their one mile of shoreline.

What was really enjoyable for this rally was there was not a lot scheduled in terms of things that were going on to keep you at the campground throughout the day. I talked to Chris Baum about this and he told me that was done on purpose. Mackinaw City is the quintessential tourist destination, and the Tearstock organizers wanted the attendees to get out and explore the area. And that went over very well. Whether it was taking a trip to Mackinac Island, crossing the Mackinac Bridge, or visiting a quirky tourist trap like the Mystery Spot, there was plenty to do. And the cuisine is pretty darned good too…I highly recommend the Mackinaw Pastie & Cookie Company and the Bridgeview Diner.

Liberty Outdoors will have a tough time coming up with a location for Tearstock 2019 (rumored to be somewhere in the Southwest) that will beat Mackinaw City. Then again, I’m a little biased as this has been one of our favorite destinations for many years. A big thanks to everyone at Liberty Outdoors for the great hospitality at Tearstock 2018!

 

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Little Guy expands roster with the debut of the Mini Max

Just eight months after production began on the Little Guy Max, Uniontown, Ohio based Liberty Outdoors today is introducing the next addition to its ever growing lineup in the Little Guy Mini Max. I first introduced you to the Max last July after visiting their Somerset, Pennsylvania factory, and since then the head count of employees at Somerset has grown to over 60 as the Mini Max starts its production cycle.

The Mini Max is a condensed version of the Max.  At 17’2”, it checks in some 4 feet shorter and over 1,000 lbs lighter than its big brother Max, weighing in at 1,993 lbs. But just looking over the specs and features, a few things stand out. It has an improved 6′ interior height when compared to others in this class, as well as a microwave oven and a 5 cubic foot refrigerator. Folks, I have a 22′ bunkhouse trailer that’s 5′ longer than the Mini Max and it only has a 3 cubic foot refrigerator! To find a way to get a 5 cubic foot fridge in a trailer of this size gets a tip of the cap from me. And it’s actually larger in size than that of the Max. Another thing I like is the incredible amount of storage. There’s a substantial pantry/wardrobe with adjustable shelves to the left of the entryway that will go over very well. And the last thing that really sticks out for me is the addition of a microwave. Since it’s mounted below the kitchen counter, you don’t lose any counter space. There’s also a fair share of storage nooks throughout for additional storage.

The Mini Max also has a wet bath, which in this class of trailer is a standard these days. And speaking of the wet bath, the tank sizes include a 20 gallon fresh, 14 gallon gray, and 9 gallon black tank.

The U-shaped dinette can convert into either twin beds or a 75″x70″ queen bed. Overhead and to the side of the dinette you’ll find a 19″ Jensen 12 volt TV.  The dinette also consists of a rotating dinette table top, sitting on a marine style, 3 stage hydraulic action table pedestal. And I wish I could explain it in words, but the hideaway slat system is just cool. Trust me!

The Mini Max also boasts 5 opening windows, including the one in the door that the Max has, for extra ventilation, which also includes a sliding screen door. The windows include integrated shades and screens much like the Max. I’ve noticed they’ve gone with a friction hinge door on this model, which I really like even in my own trailer.

From a construction aspect, the Mini Max has Liberty Outdoors’ 2 year manufacturers warranty. Sitting on a tubular steel chassis, the Mini Max is framed in aluminum (sidewalls and roof), with Azdel paneling and block foam insulation in the sidewalls and roof.

A few other notable standards are a bone chilling 13,500 BTU roof mount Dometic air conditioner, an 8″ deep stainless steel kitchen sink, 16,000 BTU furnace, 2 burner glass top stove with electric ignition, and exterior Furrion speakers with an exterior TV mount. There is also a Keder rail to attach aftermarket visor, awning or tent room.

All of those standard features can be had for an MSRP around $23,000, so I would suspect dealer prices to be around $20K. There are a few options you can add on for an upcharge, including the Rough Rider Package, which includes 15″ off-road tires and a 2.5″ axle lift, a 100 watt flexible Zamp solar panel, walnut cabinetry, Jack-It bike carrier, and a Furrion wireless observation system.

In a press release today from Liberty Outdoors, “We are super excited to announce the Mini Max. Our community has spoken and we are responding with a smaller Max that is much easier to tow, while not sacrificing the best features or the craftsmanship of the larger model. Our operations team and production crew has outdone themselves with the Mini Max. We can’t wait to bring it to the teardrop market,” said Liberty Outdoors Co-founder and Managing Director of Sales and Marketing, Joe Kicos.

“The Mini Max really hits the sweet spot for many more customers,” said Dylan DeHoff, Liberty Outdoors Director of Operations. “The spaciousness, the storage, the huge refrigerator, the electric ignition stove, the bed configuration, the ability to keep the microwave, I could go on. These are things that trailers in this class simply don’t have. I think our community will be thrilled with the Mini Max,” said DeHoff.

As for my thoughts, the Mini Max should do very well for a few reasons. First, it offers more standards than others in this class of trailer for the same…if not less expensive…price. After seeing their factory firsthand and the areas of their trailers you can’t see in the finished product, their stuff is built to last, with exceptional fit & finish. These guys have always known how to market and distribute trailers for years, but now that they’re building them, they’re at that same level as manufacturers. Their interaction with their customers before and after the sale is something you just don’t see much from in the industry, as I’m sure some of you reading this can attest. It’s nothing to see comments on the Little Guy social media pages on a daily basis from either Dylan DeHoff or Chris Baum. It’s that kind of customer service that really builds the foundation for success, and these guys have the Midas touch. As you can see by the lack of an ad from Little Guy on my website, I say this not as someone paid anything by them, but as someone who appreciates an RV manufacturer who goes that extra mile to make the customer happy in an industry where that is a rarity.

For more info on the Little Guy Mini Max and where to find a dealer near you, visit their website at http://golittleguy.com/mini

 

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My Top 6 Small Trailer Picks for Couples

Recently an idea popped into my head for a post here on The Small Trailer Enthusiast. If I were in the market for a single axle couples camper today, what would I want and why? After going through the Manufacturers page here on this site, I came up with six floorplans from six manufacturers that I’d love hauling behind my Yukon. Various factors came up to these six, such as quality, uniqueness of the floorplan, or just some unexplained feeling I had that told me I’d like it if it were mine.

So here are my 6 picks in alpha order:

Airstream Bambi Sport 22FB

Key Features: Iconic Airstream design; Enclosed and heated tanks; Separate short U-shaped dinette; Good sized rear dry bathroom.

Key Specs: Checks in at 21’8″ from hitch to tail with a dry weight of just over 3600 lbs; 7’3″ exterior width; 3-way 4.2 cubic ft refrigerator; 6’3″ interior height; 866 lbs cargo capacity; 422 lbs hitch weight; 4,500 lbs GVWR

Why I like it: It’s my contention that the 22FB Bambi Sport is the best bang for the buck when it comes to Airstreams. You get a fair sized bed, a U-shaped dinette, and a decent sized full bathroom. Currently, MSRP on one is around $56,000. Typically you can expect to get 18-20% off MSRP on an Airstream, which puts your out the door prices in the $46,000 range. When you consider a much shorter 16′ Bambi Sport after discount off MSRP would run in the upper $30K’s and an Airstream Basecamp will run you in the mid $30K’s as well, the 22FB Bambi Sport would be a comfortable option for someone OK with spending $300-some a month for 15 years. Plus, it’s an Airstream. Who wouldn’t like camping in the most iconic trailer that’s ever existed?

https://www.airstream.com/travel-trailers/sport/

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(courtesy Colonial Airstream)

Cherokee Wolf Pup 18TO

Key Features: Full size super slide; Ample counter space; Affordable entry level model; Tuck away bunk bed

Key Specs: Dry weight of just under 3800 lbs; 22’9″ long; 1200 lbs cargo capacity; 85″ wide; 10′ awning; 4999 lbs GVWR; 437 lbs hitch weight

Why I like it: Cherokee has been making great strides in recent years as one of the top entry level “stick & tin” trailers in the market, slicing into Jayco’s stranglehold in that segment. The Wolf Pup is Cherokee’s small floor plan family member, and the 18TO is their most appealing floorplan. It has a full super slide housing both the dinette and jack knife sofa. What’s more is you get a hideaway bunk that extends over the sofa for additional sleeping. If you don’t need the bunk, it stays smartly out of the way behind the back of the sofa. Also a queen bed up front gives a ton of sleeping options for a trailer under 23′ long, probably up to 7 or 8 if you have some kids in the mix. The kitchen has ample counter space with a 3.3 cubic foot refrigerator. This is a great little floorplan that gives you plenty of elbow room. These can be had for as low as the $12K range.

http://www.forestriverinc.com/travel-trailers/cherokee-wolf-pup

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(courtesy Haylett RV)

Lance 1575

Key Features: Unsurpassed quality; Deep slide U-dinette; Azdel interior wall panels; One piece fiberglass roof; Acrylic tinted Thermopane Euro windows; Enclosed, insulated and heated fresh water tank; Tankless water heater; 5 cubic foot refrigerator

Key Specs: Dry weight of 2650 lbs; 20’5″ total length; 225 lbs dry hitch weight; 3700 GVRW; 1050 lbs cargo capacity; 6’6″ interior height; 85″ wide

Why I like it: It’s no accident that Lance is the number one selling composite trailer in 2017. Long known for their quality construction, Lance is a trailer built to last. The 1575 offers a great layout for couples with a large U-shaped dinette in a deep slide that can accommodate a couple of guests for the night. The bathroom is concealed by a not so common sliding pocket door. And that new Roadster upholstery is something to behold! The light weight of the 1575 (2650 lbs dry weight) expands tow vehicle options. The use of Computer Numerical Control machinery in the construction of each Lance trailer is very evident when you observe the fit & finish. Easily the last trailer you’d ever have to buy. Prices can be found in the upper $20K’s.

https://www.lancecamper.com/travel-trailers/1575/

 

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Little Guy Max

Key Features: Storage, storage storage; 7 insulated dual pane windows; 24″ dinette TV on electric lift; 24″ bedroom TV with soundbar; Stainless steel refrigerator, microwave, and 8″ deep sink; 100% hardwood cabinet with dovetail construction; Exterior color options: white or silver base with red, black, or silver trim

Key Specs: 3140 lbs dry weight; 21′ overall length; 7′ overall width; 6’7″ interior height; 3800 lbs GVWR; 60″x80″ queen bed; 2 year manufacturers warranty; Optional 3.5″ axle riser

Why I like it: When I first visited the Little Guy factory in Somerset, PA in June 2017, they were barely a dozen units into the production process. Despite that, the finished product I was looking was incredibly well put together. I was able to see all stages of production, so when I saw what’s underneath the final product, I knew this thing was going to take off, and it has. Despite its teardrop shape, the large and open feel on the inside is what makes this trailer shine. The 7 total windows really help the cause by really opening things up in the inside. What’s more is the crazy amount of interior storage totals something like 59 cubic feet! A larger than normal wet bath gives just about everyone plenty of elbow room. The front dinette 24″ TV with electric lift hides it when you don’t need it, which is something you typically won’t find in a trailer of this size. Overall an excellent product and they’re selling like hotcakes. As of this writing, expect to pay around $30K, give or take a couple thousand.

http://golittleguy.com/lg-max/

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Venture RV Sonic Lite 149VML

Key Features: One piece seamless fiberglass roof; Black tank flush; Porcelain foot flush toilet; Lighted safety step and grab handle; Slam latch baggage doors; Foldaway dinette table and chairs

Key Specs:  6’10” interior height; Lightweight at 2745 lbs dry weight; 3500 lbs GVWR; 290 lbs hitch weight; 755 lbs cargo capacity; 19’2″ total length; 90″ exterior width; 4.2 cubic foot refrigerator; Large tanks: 41 gal gray, 38 gal fresh, 30 gal black; 11′ awning

Why I like it: I’ve been interested in the Sonic lines by Venture RV for the past couple of years. They’ve got some cool floor plans that are outside the box, and the 149VML Sonic Lite is no exception. This rear kitchen, rear side entry trailer is a nice, lightweight couples camper that has a neat little foldaway table and chairs that replace a standard RV dinette. When not using the table, it opens up some good floor space between the kitchen and bedroom. It’s also got a HUGE 6’10” interior height which is unheard of in a trailer of this size. The kitchen in the 149VML boasts good pantry and cabinet storage, as well as a nice wrap around kitchen counter. These are two big things my wife always wants in her trailer, so this is a unit I know she’d like. The Sonic Lite 149VML is nicely priced in the mid teens.

https://www.venture-rv.com/products/sonic-lite-travel-trailers/SL149VML.html

 

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Winnebago Micro Minnie 1705RD

Key Features: High gloss gelcoat fiberglass exterior; Dual propane tanks; Enclosed and heated tanks; U-shaped rear dinette; Ample kitchen counter space; Good overall cabinet storage; Multiple exterior color options; Battery disconnect switch

Key Specs: 20’9″ overall length; 3,080 lbs dry weight; 3,800 GVWR; 6’4″ interior height; 7’0″ exterior width; 12′ awning;

Why I like it: When Winnebago re-entered the travel trailer market a few years back, it didn’t take long for them to quickly put out one of the finest trailers you’ll find in that class. The gelcoat gloss finish on the fiberglass is unlike anything other manufacturers put on their trailers. I really like the light, off-white interior in the 1705RD, which opens up the entire interior of the trailer, making it feel larger than it really is. The storage in the 1705RD is more than enough for a couple looking to make this their trailer of choice. But what I really love about this floorplan is the U-shaped rear dinette, offering a comfortable spot to relax and look out the three windows that surround the dinette. The kitchen counter offers sufficient prep space as well as a stainless steel sink. You can expect to pay somewhere in the upper teens for a 1705RD. Love this one a lot!

https://winnebagoind.com/products/travel-trailer/2018/micro-minnie/overview

(Images courtesy McClain’s RV Superstores)

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So there you have it folks. A look into what tickles my fancy in terms of couples trailers in the 20′ range. Do you have one of these floorplans? If so, leave a comment below and let us know what you think of it. And speaking of trailer floor plans, this coming week is the annual RVIA show in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ll be there for two days this year bringing you news on the new models and floorplans coming out for 2018. I’ll be giving some live updates on the Facebook page and on Twitter. To follow along at either social media platform, you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/smalltrailerenthusiast/ and here: https://twitter.com/Small_Trailers. You can look for those updates from the show starting this coming Tuesday, November 28. As always, a big thank you for reading, and have a happy holiday season!

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Little Guy transformation kicks off with the Max

 

The report of my death was an exaggeration. – Mark Twain

That famed quote by Mark Twain in a letter he wrote in 1897 is something that popped into my head on the drive back home to Indiana recently after visiting Liberty Outdoors’ facility in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For after the split of Little Guy Worldwide (now Liberty Outdoors) with longtime manufacturer Pleasant Valley Teardrops (now nuCamp RV), a lot of people left the Little Guy team for dead.

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Destined to become more than just a teardrop marketer, Little Guy entered the arena of manufacturing, something quite new to them. With the recently acquired rights to the Serro Scotty brand, Little Guy formed an alliance with Gulf Stream to manufacture an “everyman’s camper” in the Serro Scotty. The Scotty took a beating on the internet, and especially in the vintage Serro Scotty community, due to its perceived lack of styling with its standard travel trailer boxiness prevalent in the industry today. Little Guy assured everyone that this was just the first wave, and more products were yet to come that would be more in line with their roots that they would manufacture themselves.

That day has come.

Fresh from their own plant in Somerset, Pennsylvania, comes the Little Guy Max.

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The Max is just the first of many new lines you’ll be seeing coming out of the plant in Somerset over the next two years. And based on my first hand observations of the Max last month, the product offerings from Little Guy will undoubtedly set the small trailer community on its ear. But until then, let’s first take a look at the Max.

I met Little Guy Director of Operations, Dylan DeHoff, at the Liberty Outdoors Somerset plant one Wednesday morning last month. Along with Dylan to meet me was a celebrity in the world of camping podcasts, Janine Pettit of the Girl Camper podcast. Janine was lucky enough to be taking the 3rd Max built back to her home in New Jersey, as she was going to do some hands on critiquing of the Max for Little Guy on a 4 week trip out west starting this month.

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Janine and Dylan took me on a tour of hers before she took it back to New Jersey. The first thing you notice when you first step into the 21′ Max is the incredibly open feel, due in part to the seven dual paned windows throughout, including a window in the door that opens up for additional airflow. IMG_6686[1]

There are also two windows in the rear of the Max that also open, including the vertical window above the spacious 60″ x 80″ queen bed, with a mattress locally made exclusively for Little Guy.

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If there’s one word that really defines the Max it would have to be space. You really feel the space in the actual physical size of the Max, including an impressive 6’7″ ceiling height. In addition,  the light tones of the real maple hardwood cabinetry open it up to create such a refreshing environment that’ll rival the great outdoors for your time spent camping.

lg max4Space is also highlighted in the form of storage space. And for a trailer of this size, I don’t recall anything have the storage, and it’s smart storage, as the Max. A total of two pantries, a deep drawer below the fridge, storage below both the queen bed and the front dinette, as well as three kitchen drawers, and overhead cabinets and cubby holes at every turn.

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This doesn’t even cover the storage under and around the front dinette either, which there is plenty there as well. You’ll notice in the photo above the 24″ Furrion TV at the foot of the bed. There’s also another Furrion TV concealed at the front dinette that opens up with the press of a button. That front dinette also folds down to make a single bed, as typical in most RVs.

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As for construction, the Max is built quite a bit sturdier than your typical trailer in this class. First, it sits on a tubular steel frame that is powder coated to automotive standards. As is the case with most of the components Little Guy uses in production, the frames are locally built. The cage is aluminum and insulated with block foam insulation and covered by Azdel paneling. The one piece fiberglass roof and sidewalls can come in either a white or silver base, with exterior trim in your choice of black, silver, or red.

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The floor is made of a 3/4″ thick product called PerforMAX 500, which is a wood product engineered to better withstand moisture and be more stronger and stable than plywood.

performax500The construction really shines especially in the cabinetry. The dovetail construction used throughout is something you just don’t see much in the industry. I learned during my visit there that they’re building trailers to last you a long, long time. They have the confidence in their trailers that they’ve put a standard 2 year warranty on them, which in the industry is still the exception.

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As for bathroom facilities, the Max has a wet bath with a height of a generous 6’2″, giving ample headroom for most. It also includes a full size multi-speed fan, which is a rarity when it comes to trailer bathroom vents. lg max10

The standards on the Max are plenty, and things you wouldn’t even see as options on other trailers in this class. As for some of the exterior features, they include a 6’3″ Thule awning with LED light strip, 2″ rear receiver for the optional bike rack, 15″ aluminum wheels, sliding screen door, exterior speakers and TV mount, pass through storage with slam latch doors, illuminated aluminum entry step and illuminated grab handle.

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On the inside of the Max, you’ll find (aside from those features already mentioned), an 8″ deep stainless steel kitchen sink with residential style high rise faucet with sprayer, a flush mounted 2 burner gas stove with glass top, a stainless steel microwave, stainless steel 4 cubic foot stainless steel refrigerator, 13,500 BTU roof mount air conditioner, traditional 6 gallon Dometic hot water heater, LED touch screen and switch panel for monitoring tanks and lighting controls, LED lighting throughout including various accent lighting above cabinets, and Furrion Stereo, Bluetooth, MP3, MP4, DVD.

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As for standard specifications, the Max checks in with a dry weight of 2,900 lbs, tongue weight of 281 lbs, and is an even 21 feet long. The holding tanks are 20 gallon fresh water, 14 gallon gray water, and 9 gallon black water. Overall width is 7 feet and height comes in at 9’1″. There’s also an optional Rough Rider package you can buy that gives you a 3.5″ axle lift, black diamond plate, and 15″ matte black off road wheels and tires.

The options on the Max are four: solar panel, bike rack, power tongue jack, and stained cabinetry, if you want your interior a little darker.

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Even though I’ve given you a lot of information here, chances are I’m probably forgetting a few things, which is testament to how loaded this “little guy” really is. It packs a feature punch that honestly I’ve not seen in a trailer this size in the years I’ve been doing this. While some will balk at the $29,999 MSRP, once you see one for yourself, you’ll soon realize that you’re not going to really find much on the level of the Max’s build quality and features. And that MSRP isn’t as high as other similar high end trailers within its size range. And from my visit to their factory, I would consider the Max a high end trailer that will last you many, many good camping years…and look pretty cool rolling into the campground to boot.

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I asked Janine a week after she took to the Max what her impressions were of it and she told me, “Liberty Outdoors just raised the bar in the light weight towable market with their Little Guy Max. It’s built to an exacting standard, thoughtfully designed and affordable. It’s a win, win, win for all RV enthusiasts.”

Based on what I saw of the Max and the other projects set to come online in the next year, that bar will be raised even higher.  Their story is just beginning.

To find out more of the Little Guy Max, visit their website at http://golittleguy.com/lg-max/

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