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Higher end/higher quality Travel Trailers?


FlyFishn
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Are there any Travel Trailers (bumper pull, not 5th wheel) that are in a similar class to, say DRV Suites, but aren't quite the "tin can" of Airstream? I'm thinking like a conventional Travel Trailer design just more "solid" and residential plumbing, non-plastic counters, & quality fridge/appliances, not "cheap". Another factor is insulation - and that gets right back to DRV's - their insulation ability is on another level in the realm of RV's.

I've been browsing a lot of them to get some ideas. Some brands/companies/manufacturers listed below:

- Forest River (ALL brands)

- Jayco

- KZ

- Keystone

- Grand Design

 

There are some floor plans that we'd like to check out, the KZ Sportsmen SE 270bhse is one. Just looking at the pictures I can tell how "cheap" it is - the bathroom sink, tub, and faucets look like kid toy plastic.

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19 minutes ago, TXiceman said:

If you are looking for better quality in a bumper pull, look at Arctic Fox.

Ah. Thanks for the suggestion. That was the brand I was trying to remember from when I looked at 5th wheels. At the time (maybe 8 years ago now) they had an arctic package that was said to be pretty nice in the realm of RV's for cold weather, comparatively. I am not sure that would stack up to a DRV on insulation, even still, but I'm sure it is a large leg up on a conventionally constructed RV.

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2 hours ago, TXiceman said:

We see way too many Flagstaff/Rockwood trailers with serious rot issues in the RV parks. 

I just found a buddy of mine's TT is a Rockwood - 2104s. Do you have any more info on the "rot issues" you have noticed? IE - is the rot in certain areas? His is a 2019 and is in good shape so far but it would be good to know where to pay attention to for any potential issues.

Edited by FlyFishn
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@Kirk W - Excellent suggestions!

The Landmarks are very intriguing. Those seem to be more along the lines of "tiny houses" than "RV's". They really do open the aperture to the possibilities of what you can do with a trailer frame and what looks on the outside to be a pretty down right ugly "box".

Those bring up a good point - I've looked at some of the park models/destination trailers out there also. I'm not opposed to those formats.

Between the two, though - destination/parks or the Landmarks - the Landmarks are more in-line with my thoughts on "layout" - they are tall, wide, and no slides. I am not sure what to make of the flip-down decks, but looking at it in a different perspective - there is a lot of glass in their models so the function of the deck in "road mode" protects the sliding glass doors.

Looking at the Landmarks it really makes me want to make my own - a lot of the materials they use from what I can see are easy to work with (metal siding, metal roof, interior wood slat siding/ceilings, cabinetry, counters, plumbing, windows, doors, flooring - at their price point I am thinking it is actual wood flooring, but luxury laminate flooring could be used also and look just as good). They do state they use spray foam insulation. That gets pricey. There are kits you can buy that have the bottles of the "stuff" but they are expensive. Between those kits and a commercial outfit to do it - not sure it would be worth the savings to do it with the hassle or just hire it out. Or go the DRV route and use fiberglass insulation like in a house (I'm not sure if they've changed that, but when I looked at them that was one of the points I liked - they had thick walls with fiberglass insulation).

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6 hours ago, FlyFishn said:

I just found a buddy of mine's TT is a Rockwood - 2104s. Do you have any more info on the "rot issues" you have noticed? IE - is the rot in certain areas? His is a 2019 and is in good shape so far but it would be good to know where to pay attention to for any potential issues.

Seen many with the bottoms of the slide literally falling out.  The other place is floors at the bottom of the slides.

Ken

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2 minutes ago, TXiceman said:

Seen many with the bottoms of the slide literally falling out.  The other place is floors at the bottom of the slides.

Thanks for the info Ken.

I remember inspecting slide assembly/function on a lot of the RV's I looked at several years ago and it was common to have a pretty crude/loose joint there - so much so that you could see light, and in some cases all the way out to the pavement at the dealers' lots, when lifting the "carpet flap" That is a major reason I don't want slides - that lack of sealing would be a big concern especially in the cold weather for energy loss - IE - cold getting in through there. If the materials are able to harbor moisture (wood, manufactured particle boards, MDF, masonite, what have you) - there's the root of the problem.

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9 hours ago, FlyFishn said:

Thanks for the info Ken.

I remember inspecting slide assembly/function on a lot of the RV's I looked at several years ago and it was common to have a pretty crude/loose joint there - so much so that you could see light, and in some cases all the way out to the pavement at the dealers' lots, when lifting the "carpet flap" That is a major reason I don't want slides - that lack of sealing would be a big concern especially in the cold weather for energy loss - IE - cold getting in through there. If the materials are able to harbor moisture (wood, manufactured particle boards, MDF, masonite, what have you) - there's the root of the problem.

One way to get away from the drafts in the slide outs is to do the raised floor in the slide. That way there is a seal completely around the inside part of the slide that seals against the wall when it's extended out. Flat floors are nice, but to me not worth the gap that's there with all of them. 

Spacecraft will build a bumper pull trailer, as will New Horizons. Have seen both in person and they are very nice, just not what I want to pull. They new Spacecraft did require an HDT to pull, not sure about the New Horizon unit. 

 

Rod

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FWIW  have a look at RV.org they are a sort of Consumers reports on RV's.

I've purchased their towables reviews previously and it helped me understand what the differences were between the offerings.

Here is a sample of one of their ratings.

1188367109_jayco2019sm.jpg.7a317efcf36280b92aa15071a1ecd88e.jpg

 

I've used them to find a quality rig that suits my purpose.

Best of luck with your choices.

FB

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We went to a dealer yesterday and walked through several. Their new inventory is Keystone products. We looked at both travel trailers and 5th wheels. Base build quality feels similar through the lineups. On the "high end" we looked at a Montana 5th wheel 3121RL. I noticed some things were upgrades - like faucets and bathroom sinks - in the Montanas, but it felt like the structure/density of most things was still "hollow" and "light" if that makes sense.

I suppose that is a point of reality checking - I realize the idea of commercially made (mass produced) RV's is to get the most for the least = most "stuff" for the space and weight. So to that point that may just be how everything in the RV world is. But will it last over time? What problems can be anticipated down the road? If seemingly everything is built to that "hollow" and "light" standard - are there variations in quality of construction in that category that may be "higher end" than not?

As to features - in reading the better half she really really likes the island kitchen designs. In discussing the options - the main point she is getting across is to have "counter space" for working in with meal prep. That is going to be hard to come by in a non-slide unit.

A few more thoughts I have - the Keystone units we looked at - I was more impressed with the sealing on the slides they had than what I remember in years past. However, they used some wonky "vapor barriers" that seem cheap and easily damaged to me. The rubber seals also seem questionable - how brittle do they get when it gets cold? Are they easily damaged? How hard is it to remove the slides and repair those components? With the winter packages - is there really that much of an upgrade on the seal-ability of the slides?

Lots of thoughts - we'll keep looking and when we can will check out some other options. There are a few dealers around. Getting to them to see other units will be a good weekend thing - so long as they have inventory. Apparently RV's are going like hot cakes in today's market.

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28 minutes ago, FlyFishn said:

Their new inventory is Keystone products. We looked at both travel trailers and 5th wheels. Base build quality feels similar through the lineups. On the "high end" we looked at a Montana 5th wheel 3121RL.

Keystone is not in the highest price/quality market and while the Montana is pretty popular in the fulltimer community, one of the main reasons for that is that most Montana owners do not have the sort of budget that it would take to buy one of the top quality. I would suggest that as a point of reference you also look at some from Grand Design or Van Leigh and then take a look at the units from DRV. If you have the opportunity to look over a New Horizons do so even though it would be a used one since they don't have dealers. While you are doing your research, look at the weights of the RVs as you compare price and quality and you will quickly see that the RVs like DRV or New Horizons not only cost much more than the Montana of similar size but they also weigh much more and require more tow vehicle as well. 

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Interstingly, as you probably already know.

DRV and Keystone (and Jayco) are both a division of Thor Industries.

Probably not built on the same MFG line though.
 

712107376_DRV5thwheel.jpg.7bc64b4790c53607fbec3fab4872749f.jpg

I Have no idea how they have changed since 2019.

Outdoors RV Titanium may be worth a look as well.
Same parent company as the Arctic Fox.

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4 hours ago, franco-bolli said:

Probably not built on the same MFG line though.

They are not. Thor has left most of it's acquired companies organized as they were before the purchase, as separate companies. Thor also owns Airstream, one of the most expensive of the production travel trailers. 

Here is a list of the brands that Thor industries currently owns:

Airstream

Heartland RV

Highland Ridge RV

Hymer

Dutchmen

Jayco

Starcraft (owned by Jayco before they purchased Jayco)

Keystone RV

Thor Motor Coach (a consolidation of Four Winds International & Damon Motor Coach)

Crossroads RV

Cruiser RV

DRV

Entegra Coach

K-Z

Redwood RV (a subsidiary of Crossroads RV)

Postle Aluminum (An aluminum manufacturer)

Tiffin & Van Leigh (most recently purchased in 2020)

Edited by Kirk W
add a few more brands
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Thanks for the info/tip on Thor Industries. I have heard of them before, now that I think about it. That name came up a while back when I was looking in to 5th wheels.

However, I was unaware DRV was under their umbrella - and honestly that surprises me quite a bit.

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I've have had a Arctic Fox since 2003 and it has served me well.  I recently thought about getting a newer trailer and after several months of reading I settled on these lines.....Arctic Fox, Outdoor Recreation, Winnebago and Grand Design.  My survey was before the latest RV purchase rush and due to production demands quality has been reported to be sliding on most lines.  Due to the price increases I have decided to stay with my old unit and continue to refurbish it to my needs.

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@duraduk - Excellent feedback.

Since you have been an owner of a unit for ~19 years - can you please elaborate on your experiences? You mention continuing to "refurbish to your needs" - what do mean specifically with that?

Also, how much do you use the RV? As in - are you using it over 10-20,000 miles a year? Does it sit in a permanent spot at a year-round campground? Does it sit in your side yard under trees and you take it out 2-3 times a year?

What "deteriorations" have you seen? Does it use torsion axles or leaf springs? Have you replaced any suspension/running gear hardware? How about things like mentioned earlier in this thread - the under side of some Forest River units' slides rotting?

Have you had any notable problems with the plumbing? HVAC?

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On 1/25/2022 at 10:13 AM, FlyFishn said:

There are some floor plans that we'd like to check out, the KZ Sportsmen SE 270bhse is one.

I now have a KZ Sportsman bought new in 2012. It has been used a lot at times with trips of 5 consecutive months in 2015, 4 months in 2016, 3 months in 2017 & 2018 as well as several 1 month to 6 week trips in other years and numerous trips of 1 week to 10 days scattered throughout the years. It was stored inside when not in use up until the fall of 2019 when we sold the property and it has since been stored in commercial storage lot without cover when not in use. 2020 it didn't move at all but 2021 we made a 2 week trip in May, were on the road all of July, and again 2 weeks in October. 

In that history I made several modifications inside in the first few years, it did have 1 warranty repair in the second year of warranty and the WFCO converter failed in year 6 and I replaced it with a better one from Progressive Dynamics. Other than that it has only had routine maintenance and care. Ours is not a high end unit but a ultra-lite model now listed as the Sportsman Classic. Our floor plan is the same as the current 160QB but it is 3 feet longer at 19' inside, and about 23' tongue to bumper. We have been very satisfied with our KZ but if I had it to do over I would go up to one with 2 axles and a slide.

Edited by Kirk W
repair a typo
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@Kirk W Thanks for the feedback!

From a functionality standpoint of what I see in the floorplan on that one - I like the fixed bed, over the Murphy Bed or fold-out couch/bed options that some of the shorter units have.

For some shorter trips/solo trips - something like that would work, but I know we would be a lot happier with more living space in the 3 key areas - bedroom, bathroom, kitchen.

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Thor is a holding company. that buys up idependent manufacturers, usually when the original management ages out and is looking to sell.  They usually leave the companies they acquire intact as mostly seperatly functioning entities.  Except for making production "improvements" to increase their profitability - i.e. make them cheaper.

If I was looking to buy one of the Thor brands I'd first take a careful look at a used model that was made before the Thor buyout, then compare it to present production.

Edited by Lou Schneider
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