Back in September when I was attending the Elkhart RV open house in Elkhart, IN, I came across this little offering in the Coachmen RV section at the Forest River compound. The shape and size of it instantly caught my eye for a further look. It was a new model Coachmen was introducing in both the Clipper and the Viking lines of camping trailers. The one on display was a Coachmen Viking Express 9.0TD.
Key Features: Unique hybrid design, with elements of both a teardrop and a pop-up camper; Rear entry door; 5,000 BTU air conditioner; Bluetooth stereo; Full pass-through storage; 20,000 BTU furnace; 1.2 cubic foot 110 volt refrigerator; Zamp solar prep; USB charging ports; Side mount grill with quick-connect propane hook-up; Four heavy duty stabilizer jacks; Optional rear awning.
Key Specs: 9′ box length; 13′ total length; Weighs just under 1,100 lbs; 54″x74″ bed; 13″ aluminum wheels; 20 lbs propane tank; 12″x24″ baggage doors; 15″x24″ windows.
Why I Like It: The Clipper/Viking Express 9.0TD hits all the right notes for me in a small camping trailer. Who’s it for? I see it for those who want to “get off the ground” from tent camping and into something with a little more amenities, but without breaking the budget. I’ve seen these advertised for less than $7,000, so they’re quite affordable for most. It’s also excellent for those with low tow capacity, as it weighs under 1100 lbs. While it is a step up from tent camping, you’re still responsible for your potty facilities, as it does not have a toilet, which will be a deal breaker for some. However, it’s safe to say you’ll already know that based on the size of the Clipper/Viking Express 9.0TD. If you like cozy, without having to pay a king’s ransom, this is the ticket. You’d be spending more than half of what an upscale traditional teardrop is going for these days. But one thing the 9.0TD has going for it that a traditional teardrop doesn’t is that you can actually stand in this once the pop-up is popped up. The 5,000 BTU air conditioner should more than take care of you on a hot summer day when you have the tent portion zipped up. And to add to that, you’ll get excellent cross ventilation from the two windows that are on each side of the camper near the head of the bed. And it’s got decent storage for what it is as well, featuring a bed that flips up for storage access, as well as interior cabinets as well as a shelf above the head of the bed, which also houses two speakers for the Bluetooth stereo. Add the optional tent room and you’ve got a nice little set-up that you’re not spending a fortune on. These are slowly starting to show up on dealers lots and websites, but I suspect that will increase over the next couple of months just in time for spring. So if you’re in the market for a teardrop, or if you’re a tent camper and just want to get off the ground, give either the Coachmen Clipper Express 9.0TD or the Coachmen Viking Express 9.0TD a look. I think you’ll find they’re a really nice alternative for your budget and camping experience.
Introduced to the public in last 2017, Nappanee, Indiana based inTech RV opened eyes in the teardrop and small trailer community with the Luna. The Luna was received with much fanfare. It was one of the finalists in RV Business’ 2018 RV of the Year. With it distinctive Euro design, the Luna quickly set itself apart from the rest of the teardrop trailer community.
In a press release earlier in June, inTech announced a more scaled down Luna called the Luna Lite. “We introduced Luna Lite as a lighter-weight, less expensive option that would help our dealers compete against other teardrop trailers in the marketplace,” stated Rich Schnippel, Director of RV Operations. Luna Lite has the same distinctive front fiberglass cap and full tempered glass windshield found on the standard Luna camper. “Our efforts were focused on maintaining an extremely high quality product, the cost and weight savings were afforded by deleting or down-grading some of the luxury items. The 40” TV was replaced with a 32” TV, the plastic formed fenders were replaced with aluminum powdercoated fenders and the Dometic Cool Cat A/C was replaced with an 8000 BTU Pummel Drive A/C’” stated Schnippel.
The key part I took from this is the “less expense option”. Priced at nearly $20,000, I got a lot of comments on The Small Trailer Enthusiast from people scratching their heads about a teardrop with that price point. So the Luna Lite should ease some of those concerns. The MSRP should be around $16,000, so I would suspect these would be more competitive with a nuCamp T@G in price.
“Our dealers had been asking for something like the Luna Lite early after the introduction of the standard Luna, they wanted a well-rounded product lineup that hit several price points,” stated Schnippel, “they asked and we responded with Luna Lite.”
Despite the reduction of some of the amenities between the Luna and Luna Lite, the Lite will still have the same dimensions of 15’6″ long from hitch to tail, 4’6″ interior height, 5’9″ interior width, and 6’10” interior length. The weight will be reduced from 200-250 lbs, down to between 1450-1630 lbs, depending on options.
Overall, I think this is a really good move by inTech. They build a really solid trailer with the Luna as well as their Flyer lines, but with price points out of line with demand, a lot of folks aren’t going to know how good that product is. This will open their market to a new set of buyers looking for a quality teardrop at a reasonable price.
In this entry of Small Trailer Snapshot, I’m featuring the Winnebago Minnie Drop 170S. Not only will I give you my thoughts on it, but I’m tag teaming with Josh “The RV Nerd” Winters, website manager and product specialist at Haylett RV of Coldwater, Michigan. We’ll give you our thoughts on why the 170S Minnie Drop is the best floorplan it has to offer.
Key Features: NXG engineered chassis; High gloss T-60 gel coat fiberglass sidewalls; One piece fiberglass roof; 13.5K BTU low profile air conditioner; Convection microwave oven; Audio Visual system: AM/FM/CD/DVD/USB/Bluetooth; USB charging ports; Gas electric refrigerator; 6 gallon gas/electric/DSI water heater; Power awning with LED lighting; Solar charge prep; 19″ television; Power tongue jack; Full dry bathroom; Kitchen slide out.
Key Specs: Total length 20’4″; Exterior height: 9’3″; Exterior width (body): 6’6″; Interior height: 6’5″; GVRW: 3800 lbs; Dry weight: 2800 lbs; Fresh water capacity: 31 gallons; Black tank capacity: 25 gallons; Gray tank capacity: 25 gallons; Furnace: 18K BTU; Water heater: 6 gallons; Hitch weight: 315 lbs; Awning length: 10′.
Why We Like It:
Josh:They brought a new take on a proven concept that is bringing more and more people into this world of small trailers. The execution of the model is pretty much flawless. And it’s the little details that set it apart like the positioning of the TV on its swing arm so it can be comfortably viewed from either dinette bench or the bed. Easily overlooked features like the jalousie windows for rainy day airflow (which is just so great when you’re boondocking it) are something that really pulls the experience together. The way they handled splitting/sharing the storage area by the entry door and bathroom is perfect. I’ve seen similar layouts across other brands make the mistake of offering no pantry or no bathroom cabinet. The 170s gives the perfect level of attention to both areas. They were the first in this class to offer a power awning (complete with easy tilt arms and LED lights at the base). The elliptical table dinette’s ability to easily float outside for picnic use is the perfect pairing. One of the best aspects of the floorplan is its ability to turtle up and be fully functional. You don’t really NEED the slide for the model to work — it just adds some breathing room you’ll appreciate. A lot of people miss the outside grill quick connect near the front storage door. I love how it’s positioned away from the awning so you’re not trapping smoke that might want to roll into the RV when you open the door. But, as is the case with ANY Winnebago towable RV, the service records on the Minnie Drop series is superior to anything else we’ve seen in this market segment. There are other respectable brands for sure, but we’ve yet to find one this close to perfect.
Pat: In January of this year, I helped out a Winnebago dealer in Indianapolis, Braun’s Fun Time Campers, at the Indy RV Expo. When they introduced the 190RD floor plan late last year, I thought that would outsell all the other Minnie Drop floorplans combined. There were four of the Minnie Drop floorplans at the show and by far the 170S was the standout, far exceeding the 190RD. So many of the folks I talked to who looked at all four kept coming back to the 170S, noting that it was the floorplan that offered the most storage, the most functional layout, and had the best “open” feel. Besides the spacious bathroom and its great storage, the 170S is the only Minnie Drop floorplan that overlooks your campsite. And that is one of the more underappreciated features of any trailer that offers it. A lot of folks I’ve spoken with don’t really even consider it until it’s brought to their attention, then that light bulb clicks on and they realize that overlooking your campsite instead of your neighbor’s is an important feature. And that light interior they introduced last year has really opened up the Minnie Drop compared to the darker wood tones that plague the industry. What I also like are all the standards the Minnie Drop has to offer (see key features above). The only options that are offered are wood grain exterior graphics and a 15″ offroad tire & axle option. But we can’t talk about Winnebago without talking about colors. And they offer eight different exterior colors to choose from. Since there is no base color, there is no upcharge, whether you choose champagne, orange, blue, hunter green, cherry, white yellow, or platinum. And that high gloss fiberglass makes those colors really “shine”. These are well built trailers with exceptional fit & finish that is easy to see. While I post reviews on trailers by giving you the basics so you can make your own judgement on whether it’s a good trailer for you, I say this with the utmost confidence regarding Winnebago, “Buy with confidence”.
Thanks again to Josh for stopping by and contributing to this post! I, as well as other consumers AND sales professionals, have learned a ton from watching the 3,300 plus walk through videos he’s done on YouTube. He provides a lot of thought provoking commentary and no matter if it’s a 40′ fifth wheel or a 10′ pop-up camper, you’re going to learn something new. By all means, tune into his YouTube channel and join the over 18,000 subscribers to the Haylett RV channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRS9u1f7074u0Rrgu05K9Wg And for an added bonus, you’ll see Josh’s walk through video of the Minnie Drop 170S at the bottom of this post.
(Editor’s note: My apologies for some spacing issues between a few of the photos below. Tried editing it all morning, but with no success.)
As of February 14, 2015, the Scotty has been SOLD to a wonderful couple from Kentucky, where it’ll be cared for and enjoyed for years to come! Thanks for all of your interest!
And now for a little post I regret to have to make. No, it’s not that the site is shutting down or anything like that. It’s to notify you readers that my wife & I are selling our very own 2010 Serro Scotty HiLander that adorns the header of this page you’re reading.
Due to a growing family tree (one grandson now and his little brother is coming soon), we are selling our beloved Scotty and upgrading to a larger trailer with a bunkhouse, etc. Our future rig will be a 2015 Shasta Oasis 25BH that we are purchasing from the good folks at Mount Comfort RV in Greenfield, Indiana.
If I could keep and maintain two trailers, we’d keep it…but we’re working toward early retirement, so it makes more financial sense to sell. So, we are looking for a good home for our Scotty.
At the bottom of this post is the standard information from Serro Scotty’s website with regard to the HiLander. Even though this model is currently listed on their site, the Serro Scotty HiLander has not been manufactured since 2012.
When we ordered it, we requested a few changes to the interior materials to make it look as retro on the inside as the outside. We selected a neutral fabric for the seat cushions, because we swapped the standard beige curtains for ones we had custom made with a Route 66 theme (fabric called Historic Highway by Alexander Henry). We also had the curtains made with room darkening / blackout fabric to prevent fading from UVs, as well as to allow us to sleep in late if we want to!
We requested black & white checkered floor, as can be seen in the photo of the front dinette below.
Here is a closeup of the fabric, Historic Highway, used for the curtains and pillows.
We also requested aqua “boomerang” by Formica and aluminum trim for the sink and dinette countertops.
Our Serro Scotty is the floor plan on the right, which is the model that has a large U-shaped dinette in the back (rather than a bed). Of course, the dinette converts into a FULL bed, and we have actually primarily kept it in that configuration, rather than switching back and forth. for two of us, we have used the front dinette to eat. Depending upon your needs, you can switch it back and forth, however you want.
Here is the rear dinette configuration (which was taken with the original beige curtains).
And here in bed configuration.
The front dinette also converts into a single bed, and there is storage underneath the booth closest to the door (which is shown in the photo toward the beginning of this post).
There is also a shelf and storage behind the other side of the front dinette, as shown in the photo below, and behind the dinette cushion.
In addition to the custom interior materials, our HiLander differs from other new models, in that we had the factory add a 110 outlet underneath the front dinette – in the photo above, taken when ours was brand new, it’s not there, but we had it installed just to the right of the converter box. Much more convenient for charging devices, using a laptop, a fan, or small appliance – we have cooked using our Griddler (grill/griddle/panini) or a crock pot, or using our Keurig. Nice addition!!
The overhead cabinet (above the rear dinette) also coverts into a single bed, if that works for you. It wasn’t necessary for us, and I used the cabinet space instead. I currently keep my items in “Thirty-one” bags that fit very well inside the cabinets. We will have the mattresses back in the Scotty for its new owner.
Kitchen features a microwave, two burner cooktop and sink. There’s an overhead cabinet and one below the sink, as well as a bank of drawers, and a fold-up counter top on the side. There’s a GFCI outlet, spice rack, and range hood fan which vents to the outside. We also have a cover that fits over the stovetop to use that space better.
The thermostat, hot water heater switch, and tank / battery monitor panel is located here too.
There is also a drawer underneath the 3.0 cu ft fridge. Speaking of the fridge, I requested that the fridge be a 3-way model, so this one runs on battery, electric and propane. I have not used it in propane mode, only battery and electric. There is a freezer compartment inside. The air conditioner is located there, and below that is an access panel which has a small storage area (I put an RV broom and brush/dustpan there).
It is equipped with a boomerang antenna and cable TV hookup; however, we did not add a TV ourselves – but there is space for one, along with cable input on the inside and a 12 V outlet.
The HiLander features a wet bath (shower & toilet combo). See the specs below for the tank capacities. However, I see that the specs do not reference the hot water heater, which is a standard feature on the HiLander. It’s a standard 6 gallon, DSI gas water heater, and configured to be able to be bypassed during winterization (no antifreeze should ever go into the hot water heater!).
We ordered the deluxe package, which includes 5,000 BTU air conditioner (shown above), Fantastic Fan, and 12,000 BTU furnace. Other than testing it, we actually haven’t used the furnace. Instead, we use a small electric space heater when we winter camp.
In keeping with the aqua/turquoise color scheme, we coordinated our new Keurig Mini in turquoise to coordinate with the Scotty…someone even commented that we’re “glamping.” LOL I never thought of it that way, but if you think this retro cool Scotty is glamping, go for it! 🙂
Exterior features a diamond plate rock guard, front window cover, storage (accessible also from the rear dinette). Bumper storage for the sewer hoses.
We purchased the coordinating aqua striped 3-pole awning to go with the trailer as well.
Here is a video we made of the Serro Scotty HiLander:
Legendary style meets everyday life. Stand apart from the crowd with this timeless classic.
All the features of home are found in your HiLander. A shower/toilet combination saves those late night hikes. It is designed to comfortably sleep four with a single front and full sized rear bed with an overhead bunk.
Safety is always first with a full frame underneath, fire extinguisher, escape hatch and a deadbolt door lock.
Perfect for family adventures! Standards include; sink, stove, furnace, refrigerator, hot water heater and spare tire.
Add even more creature comforts with optional A/C, microwave, awning and TV/DVD.
As most of the country finds itself in typical January cold temps, many RV shows are going on this weekend throughout the country. Here’s a listing of those you can attend this weekend and collect those coveted brochures, surely helping pass the time and get us all closer to hitching up for the 2015 camping season.
While September 7 marks the anniversary of the first post of The Small Trailer Enthusiast (“The STE”), September 3 marked the first anniversary of the creation of the site. Since I was on the road on the 3rd finishing a Labor Day weekend road trip circling Lake Michigan, I wasn’t able to post this. I still want to take this time to give my thanks to all of you who take the time to read the ramblings of an RVer like you.
As I look through the stats of the site every few days, I see a wide range of search terms from people from all over the world. That first month saw minimal traffic of around 15 visitors per day. A year’s worth of content feeding into Google, Bing, and other search engines has helped grow our traffic to just under 500 visitors per day. Much of the search content is on specific models we’ve highlighted, but there is also a lot of searching for just information on small trailers. That’s the reason the idea of this blog came to me in the summer of 2011: To create a clearinghouse of stories and resources to help other devotees of small trailers find the trailer of their dreams. And from what I have seen, this is the only game in town.
As much as I get a charge out of getting a scoop that none of the big RV media outlets have done, I get as much satisfaction in the e-mails I get from the readers. I’ve found through their e-mails that there are more out there like me…people who just love reading about small trailers. The readers have also been a great resource by telling me about a particular brand of trailer that I should put up on the Manufacturers page, or those who are having trouble deciding what to buy and are searching for advice.
There have been individuals in the RV industry who’ve helped provide me with the content that ends up as blog posts. There are too many to name and surely I’d leave someone out, but you all know who you are. And the admiration I get from readers for how the site is set up, well, credit for that can go to someone not involved in the RV industry. As I’ve mentioned before, this site was modeled after Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News, the premier news site pertaining to America’s favorite highway. The STE, like Route 66 News, is not only a site for news stories, but also a resource center, whether you’re looking for manufacturers, online forums, or other info pertaining to small trailers or camping.
While I try to stay impartial regarding trailer brands, I will confess that I give special attention to the small companies trying to make their mark in a highly competitive and volatile industry. I really want to see guys like Dan Sutton, Larry Drake, and Ted Simpson do well, and if I can use The STE as a platform to get their message out about their unique offerings, that’s what I’ll do.
It’s my hope that all manufacturers, big and small, do well and have many years of production. Some may be discussed in blog posts, or others may just appear as a link in the Manufacturers page. Regardless of who they are, they’re on here for the readers to find and determine if that’s the trailer that fits their needs. That’s the core mission of The Small Trailer Enthusiast.
Recently Serro Scotty Worldwide introduced the 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman prototype at various rallies. I had a chance to see it recently at the Big Little Rally in Transfer, PA, and many of you will see it for the first time here.
Serro Scotty president Bill Kerola told me over the weekend there are a lot of things that will need to be tweaked with the next prototype. However, there’s no doubt the Sportsman has received an extreme makeover from the previous model that existed from the 2008-2010 model years.
Some savvy Scotty devotees might notice at first glance it’s similar in styling to that of the now defunct Serro Scotty Pup, which lasted from 2009-2011. While the Pup (pictured below in the foreground) was smaller than the ’13 Sportsman, the design resembles that of the Pup more than that of the previous Sportsman.
While the Serro Scotty website currently does not have any info on the ’13 Sportsman, one spec that I can share is it weighs in at an impressive 1700 lbs. Impressive in that it’s very lightweight for its size. The previous Sportsman checked in at a base weight of 2100 lbs. Kerola tells me there are many composites in the ’13 Sportsman. So many composites that it could probably pass as a “green” RV. Another attention-grabber is the skylight that stretches over the back of the trailer, above the gaucho sofa. Currently the prototype’s floorplan consist of a toilet and fridge in the front. However, another floorplan is being developed that will feature a dinette in the front and bed in the rear. I was impressed with the headroom as well. I’m a tick over 5’10”, and I’d guesstimate the headroom in the ’13 Sportsman to be around the 6’3″ range.
Kerola tells me he’ll be sending out a press release in the next couple of months, so we should know more about this as well as what the production of the popular HiLander is looking like. The Sportsman is being produced by a group of former Coleman pop-up trailer employees in Somerset, PA.
Two years ago after we decided to upgrade from our T@B to a slightly larger small trailer, we attended an annual RV show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to see what was new for 2010. By this time, we were sure we’d end up with a Serro Scotty HiLander, but I still kept my eyes open for other options. What we found was something I was interested in looking a little more into, although my better half had no interest.
The trailer was a 2010 KZ Sportsmen Classic 14RB. It was roughly the same size as the Scotty, while weighing a couple hundred pounds less. It was a 14′ rig with a front dinette, side couch, opposite side kitchen, rear corner bath, and rear closet. It was decent on space, although the look was boxy, lacking the “wow” factor the Scotty had. However, what kept me thinking about it was the price, which was about $4,000 less than what we ultimately paid for the Scotty. I figured I’d try to convince my wife we could save some money, yet still have a small, roomy trailer. Well, needless to say, that conversation didn’t get far, and five months later we were in our Scotty after selling the T@B.
But being a fan of small trailers, I still kept tabs on the KZ Sportsmen Classic. These things were everywhere and massively produced. They must’ve been popular based on the number of them on dealer lots throughout the country. The more I read about them, the more I learned about them, and the more I learned about them, the more I questioned my sanity for wanting one. After all, they were somewhat boring and they were entry level stick & tin trailers. Craftsmanship wasn’t the highest of quality, but hey, for $8-9K, you could get a brand new trailer with a warranty. A good option if you have a limited budget.
However, over the past two years the market has started to put the squeeze on the 14′ Sportsmen Classic. In that time, I’ve found (not to say there aren’t others) ten other trailers with the same floor plan as the KZ. Shall we start the slide show?
So, I think that makes 10. But what do you know, in the midst of finding all these photos, I came across yet another trailer with this floor plan. The Skyline Aljo Retro 140…
Photo courtesy Norm's RV
That’s a pretty impressive list of….sameness. For those who have difficulty making a decision (like me, so says my wife), I wish you well if this floor plan is one you like. Chances are by the time you’d decide on which manufacturer to go with, 10 more manufacturers will have introduced a 14 footer with this floor plan. Curses! I don’t mean to belittle these trailers. As I mentioned, they will allow buyers to get a new trailer with a warranty at a cheap price. Plus, they’re light enough (2300 lbs, give or take depending on options) to where you can tow with with most SUVs and mini vans.
So, let’s take a look at a typical 14′ travel trailer with this floor plan, shall we? Here’s a walk-through of a 2010 KZ Sportsmen Classic from the fine folks at Veurinks RV in Michigan.
One thing I’ll never forget about that day at the RV show two years ago was that both times I looked at the Sportsmen while we were there, the door entry was just a hair too short for me and I banged my head on the top of the door entry not once, but twice. I think I still have the knot in my head to prove it. But I’m still glad I listened to my wife and sticking with the plan to get a Scotty instead, as I think I would’ve been banging my head in more ways than one had we gone with the “popular” 14′ floor plan.
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.
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?