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2015 RVIA Show Prelude


This week marks the annual RVIA trade show in Louisville, Kentucky. While not open to the public, I’ll be there bright and early Tuesday morning for the 5th straight year to bring you an overview of all the small towables on hand.


I’ll be Tweeting and posting on Facebook throughout the day. If you use either of those social media platforms, do follow along! Time permitting in the days after the show, I’ll put up a post here on the website about what I see. In the meantime, you can like us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/The-Small-Trailer-Enthusiast-269125426471703/ or follow us on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Small_Trailers



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52nd Annual RVIA Trade Show Recap – Part 1

This was my fourth straight RVIA trade show in Louisville this past week. According to RV Pro, overall attendance was down 3%, but an interesting stat I found was that editorial press jumped an impressive 43%. Yeah us!

Overall the amount of small trailers at the show was about the same. Forest River only brought one r-pod from what I could find. It was the RP-179 model with the rear kitchen which debuted last year. I do like the new paint scheme for 2015. I was somewhat surprised only one unit was there, considering they had a copy of a spreadsheet tacked to the side of it that listed sales figures for several trailers specifically under 20′ and how the r-pod was #1 on the list in sales.


Although not yet on their website, Riverside RVs showed up with a double axle trailer in their Whitewater Retro line. Since I don’t have any specs on it, it “may” be over 20′ (gasp!), but since it’s the 195 model, we’ll assume that it’s about 19 1/2′ long. I think this will be well received. The floorplan consists of a rear island bed, full size bathroom in the middle on the street side, kitchen in the middle on the curb size, and a spacious U-shaped dinette in the front. The black & white checkered floor and leather-esque upholstery really add to the white and turquoise exterior with the baby moon hubcaps. Keep checking the Riverside RV website for this one to show up there: http://riversidervs.net15950827962_ce3bf7b37a_z


While Shasta RV has been making news the past few months with the reissued 1961 Airflyte, they do make traditional travel trailers and 5th wheels as well. The Shasta Oasis has a new floorplan for 2015 in the 18FQ. This is a good, functional floorplan that would be excellent for a couple just getting into the RV lifestyle,  or an older couple downsizing from a larger unit.  Personally, it has that “just right” size for me: not too big and not too small. It has a front queen bed with a full rear bath and curbside dinette and street side kitchen. As I write this on December 7, 2014, the 18FQ is not yet on the Shasta website, but keep checking the Shasta RV website, as it should be up there in the coming weeks: http://shastarving.com



15329207204_d3c8b5aa03_zThis covers a few of what I encountered in Louisville. I’ll be writing up an additional post hopefully later this coming week on some additional insights on what I saw from T@B, Winnebago, and a couple of others. But due to a load of overtime I’m facing at my day job this week, I wanted to get a partial post out there for you all . More to come!



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A Day at the RVIA Show — Part 3

Now that I’ve reviewed a few of the smallish trailers I encountered at the RVIA show, one company stood out to me above the rest. Livin Lite’s Camp Lite series was the star of the show in my book. After spotlighting them in October, I was interested in seeing one up close & personal. The You Tube video introducing the world to the Camp Lite series makes it look like a nice, solid unit with a super light build.

Upon inspection of all the units Livin Lite brought to Louisville, I have to say that the Camp Lite exceeded my expectations, which were already rather high. I can’t say enough good things about the build quality of their trailers. Everything was just first class from fit & finish to the quality of materials used. As a “car guy” in a previous life, I’ve done my share of car judging. If the Camp Lites were in a judged trailer show, it would’ve been difficult to find any flaws to mark down on my score card.

This was also the debut of the optional “orbit” nose that will be offered. This is a nice little upgrade for someone wanting a rounded front, compared to having the nose with the standard angles.

Another new option is a wood grain look to the interior. This tends to tone down Camp Lite’s traditional utilitarian look of its interior.

Livin Lite isn’t the biggest trailer manufacturer out there, but they’re far from the smallest. All the “big boys” had a small trailer of some sort at the show in Louisville, and I looked at them all. I can honestly say that Camp Lite was better than most of them, yet not one of them was better than the Camp Lite. And that includes anything Airstream or Forest River had to offer. Camp Lite isn’t the least expensive trailer you’re bound to find, but given the fact that it’s made of aluminum and composites and is 98% recyclable, it could literally last forever. So you may pay a little more up front, but it could easily be the only trailer you’d ever have to buy.

So that brings to a close my thoughts on the field of small trailers at the 49th National RV Trade Show. A big thank you to Courtney Robey, Public Relations Manager of the RVIA, for extending the offer to me to attend so I could pass on my thoughts & opinions for the readers of The Small Trailer Enthusiast.  Reports show attendance for this year’s show was down 6%, but based on the millions of dollars of trailers, 5th wheels, and motor homes on display, the RV industry in this country is alive and well.


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A Day at the RVIA Show — Part 1

Tuesday morning saw an early departure from home for the 130 mile drive south on I-65 to the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, KY for the 49th Annual RV Trade Show. Despite a 30 minute delay north of the Ohio River due to the I-64 bridge west of Louisville being closed for the past 3 months, I managed to arrive just before 10am.

Since it was my first time at the event, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After several attempts to register, I finally found the press room where us “media types” had to check in. After signing in, I was told that I had some info to get in my mailbox. “My what?” Apparently all the media types had their own mail slot filled with press releases, company info, and even a 1GB flash drive from the fine folks at Go RVing.

I grabbed my mail and off I went. I soon found an area where I could look at the map they provided so I could coordinate a plan of attack for the day. After looking at the map, I wondered if 7 hours there would be long enough. My first part of the plan would be to just walk the entire show to get a feel for where everyone was. Just when I thought I had seen everything on my first walk through, a new wing popped up with either a whole big section of RVs or a wing of suppliers hawking their goods.

After awhile, the stack of stuff from my mailbox was starting to become a hassle to carry along with my trusty Nikon D-40.  My mission soon turned from figuring out the layout of the show to finding a booth that was giving away free bags. I stopped by the booth of Denso Heavy Duty and they were kind enough to let me have not only one, but two of their bags for my growing stack of stuff. Now it was time to get serious!

Since I knew this would be my only day at the show and because I was there to find material for the blog, I focused on, obviously, small travel trailers. What I found from all the manufacturers in attendance is that there are a wide array of options across just about all income levels, whether it was the Airstream Sport 16′, which retails for nearly $40,000

to the lower end Jayco Swift SLX, which can be had for just over $9,000.

The majority of the trailers I went through had some nice, usable floor plans, along with various interior features that caught my eye. Then there were some trailers that I just liked because of their eye appeal. Here are some observations on trailers I liked for one reason or another:

–As mentioned a few weeks ago, the Gulf Stream Visa 17RWD didn’t disappoint when I saw it first hand. Good floor plan and that sleek exterior design:

The new Springdale Fireside: Not the most attractive trailer out there…

but the interior had this very nice looking rustic/log cabin look on the walls and cabinetry.

It was good to see Forest River has finally got a decent exterior package for the r-pod. What used to look like a circus trailer…

has now been upgraded to a nice cream base and a much more toned-down exterior scheme:

And since this post will likely be a little longer than usual and since it’s nearing 1:30am, I’m going to cut this post into two and continue over the weekend. I’ll return with some more that I liked, one that disappointed, and even my own personal “best of show”. Stay tuned!

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49th Annual RVIA Trade Show

November 29-December 1 marks the RVIA’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Over 60 manufacturers and over 200 suppliers will be on hand for three days of product debuts and exhibition. I was fortunate enough for the RVIA to offer me an invitation to attend…and attend I will!

Most of the nation’s leading recreational vehicle manufacturers will be on hand, as well as many of those who produce small travel trailers, such as Little Guy Worldwide, Livin’ Lite, Riverside RV, and the bigger manufacturers such as Gulf Stream and Forest River. One booth I’m interested in visiting is that of Travel Lite. They’re a truck camper company, but will be debuting their first endeavor in the travel trailer arena with the new Idea travel trailer, which will come in lengths from 16 to 18 feet. Travel Lite has plans to donate a portion of each Idea sale to Habitat for Humanity.

The annual Louisville trade show has always been a showcase where new models are debuted. Last year, Riverside’s Bob Taulbee introduced the world to the Riverside Retro, which is in production today with a new floor plan soon to come off the line.

(photo courtesy the Goshen News)

However, not all units that debut in Louisville ever see the light of production. Case in point, in 2008, Airstream debuted the Scout concept trailer. Highly retro in design, but for whatever reason never made it to production.

What other new trailers that will debut at this year’s RVIA trade show will be answered in the coming days. Stay tuned, as  I’ll have plenty to update you on.

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