With another RV manufacturers open house in the books, the industry continues to push ahead with new models, new floor plans, and new innovations on the horizon. This year I spent two days at the event, and I’m glad I did. One day just isn’t enough time to hit all of Thor and Forest River, as well as visiting the smaller manufacturers. Next year I’ll be sure to make it a two day affair to get everything in. For this post, I’m just going to give an overview and a few thoughts in this post. I’ll work on some individual reviews in the months to come. What I’ve noticed from last week is that in the small trailer arena, more and more manufacturers are going with a Murphy bed in a lot of their lines. Demand for this option is strong among consumers who wish to have some versatility in their trailers, and the industry is listening. I was somewhat cool at best with them a few years ago. Just seemed a hassle, but the more I’ve seen of them, the options they provide for seating has sold me on them. And considering we’re all here for small trailers, we know our options are limited on seating in a trailer that’s 20 feet or less, so the Murphy bed, dare I say, in some instances is a necessity depending on how many you’re camping with.One of the most unique things I saw came from the folks at inTech RV. They have found a way to put a cassette toilet INSIDE their Luna teardrop trailer. I’ve wracked my brain and I sure can’t think I’ve ever seen a permanent toilet inside a teardrop before. Will it be a hit? Time will tell. When I posted a video I shot of it on The Small Trailer Enthusiast Facebook page, opinions were mixed. Even though it is enclosed after use, some who responded wanted no part of their head next to a toilet while they were sleeping. Others said it was a great idea and not having a toilet has prevented them from buying a teardrop in the past. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with it if it were just me camping in it. But knowing my wife, there’s no way she would use it if I were in there, and she certainly wouldn’t want to be in there if I were using it. I have a hunch that’s probably the common opinion with most married couples. I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of Canadian manufacturers make it to the show trying to expand their dealer network in the United States. Both Pro-Liteand Helio had a nice mix of trailers on hand. There are a handful of U.S. dealers that carry both manufacturers, and hopefully we’ll see more after this show. They offer a few different perspectives from the usual you find in U.S. built trailers.I’ve heard for a couple years now about the plans for the Little Guy Micro Max from Xtreme Outdoors.The prototype didn’t disappoint. If you like the Serro Scotty trailers from the 1960’s with the drop floors, you will see some of that same design in the Micro Max. It will go over with a lot of consumers in the market for something lightweight (1700 lbs) that you can stand up in. It’s just 16’3″ from hitch to tail, and the best part? With a 6’6″ exterior height, it will easily fit in most garages, saving a lot of people precious money in offsite storage fees. After a few minor tweaks, look for production to begin sometime in late Spring of 2020. Another trend I saw last week was that of the rear entry trailer gaining steam. We know the Aliner Ascape has been around a few years now, but I counted 3 new ones from different manufacturers, including Gulf Stream’s Amer-Lite, Riverside Retro, and Cherokee’s Wolf Pup. And all were a bit different from won another, yet with the same general layout. I’ll be watching these to see if they garner public acceptance in the small trailer community. Personally, I’d have no problem with one. I like the uniqueness of the design, and if you’re in a site that backs up to the woods, you get a sense of privacy. Plus, it’s just something different and I applaud the designers for coming up with something that’s new and refreshing.Overall I’m happy with what I’m seeing. Even the entry level stick & tin models continue to fine tune their lines and make them look a little less entry level. I really liked what I saw from the R-pod192. Honestly, it was the one that really made me wish my wife and I were in the market, because it hit a lot of buttons for me. That will be one of the first features I do when I start putting these together in posts in the months to come. I also liked the new Coachmen Catalina Expedition, a No Boundarieswith rear twin beds, and an innovative unit from Palominocalled the Revolve, which is powered by multiple lithium batteries as well as solar. I got a lot of material to do a ton of blog posts on in the coming months. Now it’s just finding the time to get it done!
Tag Archives: Xtreme Outdoors
Earlier this week, I had a chance to talk to Joe Kicos, founder of Little Guy Trailers, regarding some of the changes happening with them since the assets of parent company Liberty Outdoors were purchased by Xtreme Outdoors – http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2019/07/28/xtreme-outdoors-purchases-liberty-outdoors-assets/.
Production is still happening with their three models they’ve had – the Max, Mini Max, and Camp Rover – albeit at a slower pace. And that pace is due to Xtreme Outdoors using their expertise in operations to re-imagine the way the factory in Somerset, Pennsylvania functions from start to finish.
Several steps have already been made at the factory to redefine the Little Guy brand, including the hiring of a new plant manager with a manufacturing background, as well as being an RVer himself for over 30 years. Also a major change is a total revamping of the warranty department. One of the pain points with customers has been a responsive warranty department, and that’s one of the things being address by the new ownership.
While talking to Kicos, he stressed how Extreme Outdoors’ number one priority is the customer experience. This is why they’ve temporarily scaled back production in an effort to work out the bugs that have plagued Little Guy and streamline the production process itself. An example of the financial commitment Extreme Outdoors has brought to the table is the addition of a rain booth to the tune of some $80,000. Leaks have been an issue for some Little Guy owners over the last two years, and the upcoming rain booth will be a big improvement as it will be a high pressure system that will hit each trailer from various angles, simulating a rain storm while traveling down a highway.
While the changes have not been fully implemented, they have a plan in place to regain the confidence of their dealers, customers, and vendors. And expect some new models to hit the market next year in the Micro Max, as well as the likelihood that the myPod will be reintroduced at some point in 2020.
As for Joe Kicos, despite the fact he’s no longer an owner, he is still on board with the title of Director of Sales. He still owns the popular teardropshop.com website, where you can find all sorts of teardrop and camping supplies. And with that, he’ll be able to focus on the marketing of the Little Guy brand, which is what he did for more than 10 years before they took production in house back in 2017.
Extreme Outdoors will be on hand at the RV dealers open house in Elkhart in late September, and I’ll be spending some time there to give you a sneak peek at their latest offerings, including the Micro Max.
To get another viewpoint on the changes at Extreme Outdoors, Paul Chamberlain of Beckley’s Camping Center in Thurmont, MD paid a visit to the factory in Somerset this week to interview some of the key players at Extreme Outdoors and get their take on what lies ahead.
To find out more on Xtreme Outdoors and Little Guy, visit their website at goxtoutdoors.com.
From the Facebook posting:
“On July 24th, 2019, Xtreme Outdoors, LLC completed the acquisition of the assets of Liberty Outdoors, LLC. Xtreme Outdoors will be focused on improving the quality, dealer and customer experience of the Little Guy brand of trailers. A number of the experienced industry staff have agreed to transition over to Xtreme Outdoors. Warranty claims on trailers sold earlier will continue to be honored.
The principals behind Xtreme Outdoors have been successful, individual (not private equity) business owners for over 20 years – they like to own and operate businesses for long periods of time. They have the background to provide substantial operational and financial backing to the business.”
Liberty Outdoors produces the Little Guy Max, Mini Max and the recently released Camp Rover, which will continue to be built in the current manufacturing facility in Somerset, Pennsylvania.
I’m interested to see what this means for the existing Little Guy lines as well as the planned Serro Scotty. My guess is that the initial focus will be on fine tuning the quality before we see any new models hit the market, as well as improving customer and dealer relations. I’ve read and heard firsthand from several frustrated dealers and customers in recent months of communication issues with Little Guy, so here’s hoping for them it will be a positive change.
As I hear more on this acquisition I’ll post it here. In the meantime, the new website for Xtreme Outdoors can be found here: goxtoutdoors.com