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2009 Bigfoot 1500 series truck camper

The lightest and most aerodynamic of the Bigfoot truck campers – “long-lasting, low maintenance adventuring”

Important dimensions:
Overall length 15’1″ or 16’6″ (see model info below), Overall width 7’11”, Interior headroom 6’5″ or 6’7″, base dry weight between 1790 and 2100 lbs.
MSRP starting at (awaiting manufacturer’s information)

Bigfoot has more than thirty years experience of building RVs. The 1500 series uses all that experience and is the lightest and most aerodynamic of the Bigfoot Campers. These truck campers are constructed out of two molded gelcoat fibreglass shells which are insulated with one inch high density polystyrene foam.

The 1500 Series Truck Camper, available in both long and short-box floorplans, comes equipped with an impressive list of standard features, high quality appliances, and three stylish interior decors to choose from.

We show all 4 floorplans for the Bigfoot 1500 Series Truck Camper below, but first we show pictures of the interior – a remarkable use of the available space:

The 2 pictures above show the 9.3 model looking forward towards the bedroom and looking aft. The picture below shows the galley arrangement for the 9.5FS model. (See floorplans below.) As we said above, we think Bigfoot have made a remarkable use of the available space.

FLOORPLANS

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2010 Earthbound travel trailer

Winner of the Roaming Times Green RV of the Year 2010

“Lighter, recyclable, low volatile organic compound construction materials in an easily towed, family friendly RV, with an original, aerodynamic, automotive inspired design”

Important dimensions: 

Exterior length 25’10” – 30’2″
Exterior width 8’1″, Exterior height 9’3″, Interior height 6’6″
7 models (7/09) – we show the floorplans below
GVWR TBA, CCC TBA
Tanks – fresh / grey / black – 36 / 30 – 60 / 30 gals
MSRP starting at (awaiting latest info)

Earthbound says: “The RV industry is well over due for change, and the industry pioneers behind Earthbound RV have been diligently working on alternative materials, designs and construction methods, that we believe, will initiate that change.”

Earthbound goes on to say: “The Earthbound travel trailer will revolutionize the towable RV industry with innovations never before seen in RVs. Earthbound RV will utilize lighter, recyclable, low volatile organic compound construction materials in an easily towed, family friendly RV, with an original, aerodynamic, automotive inspired design.”

The pictures below show the interior of the Morrison model (see floorplans below.) Roaming Times thinks this really is a well thought out floorplan with innovative features. Many of our readers have told us about their problems with formaldehyde in a new RV; it really is good to see the use of low volatile organic compound construction materials in the Earthbound. 

The first pictures of the Earthbound really do show a well thought-out interiors with specially chosen materials. Among the main features is the light weight. Earthbound says: “with the lightest weight, most full featured design in its class, Earthbound RV’s technology now makes it possible for many mid-sized SUV’s to tow true, family-friendly RV’s. Did you know that an 8% fuel savings could be achieved for every 1,000 pounds removed from a tow-able RV?”

With regards to quality, Earthbound says: “Most U.S. consumers are plagued by low final assembly quality and poor material content from RV manufacturers old school of design and basic construction methods, which in turn, has impacted the consumers overall view of the RV industry’s quality standards and impacted the Customer Satisfaction Index. By utilizing state of the art equipment, space-age materials, full pre-delivery inspections and a production management team that features a vested ownership in the company, a new standard of quality will evolve at Earthbound RV.” Impressive. And beautiful too:

Just a couple of final points from Earthbound:

  • Earthbound RV’s construction is backed up by a groundbreaking, 3-year, limited, bumper-to-hitch warranty
  • A name you can trust. Earthbound RV is truly the “original innovator” to the RV industry. Although Earthbound RV is a new name to most, the icons at the helm of Earthbound have brought you industry changing names like Dutchmen, Hart Housing, Fourwinds and Pilgrim International.
FLOORPLANS:

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Roaming Times by Heather Pieczonka - 2w ago
  • MSRP: $108,763 USD
  • Length: 21′
  • Weight: 9,350 Lbs

Based on the powerful, fuel-efficient Ram ProMaster chassis, the Winnebago Travato 59G has been at the forefront of the camper van revolution since its launch in 2014. Thanks to premium features such as the energy-saving Truma Combi eco plus heating, the Deluxe FROLI sleeping system and Corian countertops, the new Travato is better than ever. With significantly upgraded standard features like 200-watt solar panels and new interior décor colorways, alongside several options, you can tailor the Travato to suit your needs.

Images courtesy of WinnebagoInd.com

This Travato class B gas coach model 59G by Winnebago features everything you need to explore the outdoors. Estimated to get 18 to 22 mpg highway, and only 21 feet long, the Travato offers all of the comforts of home in an efficient van.

Image courtesy of WinnebagoInd.com

There are double doors in the rear that open up making it easy to load and stow away your gear as you travel. You will find plenty of space with the rear corner 46″ x 77″ bed folded up while you are on the move.

The rear corner wet bath offers a shower, toilet, and sink for added conveniences.

Cook up light meals and snacks with the two burner range top, refrigerator/freezer, and round sink provided. There are also storage cabinets for dishes and things. A bench seat and table behind the driver’s seat and the side bench located behind the passenger seat is perfect for dining, and can also be folded down to create a 42″ x 72″ Flex bed for sleeping at night.

Dual-paned acrylic windows are nearly three times more thermally efficient, quieter, and have a locking vent function.

The 200-watt solar panels allow you to go off-grid, plus you have a 2,800-watt Cummins Onan gas generator or Pure3 Energy Management System providing additional power when needed.

Image courtesy of WinnebagoInd.com

Our Detailed Review of the Winnebago Travato 59K - YouTube

Video courtesy of The Fit RV

Features of the 2019 Winnebago Travato 59G:

  • Convection Microwave
  • Furnace
  • Single Door Refrigerator
  • Stove Top Burner
  • Water Heater
  • 30 Amp Service
  • Roof Air Conditioner
  • Dodge Ram Pro Master Chassis With V-6 Gas Engine
  • Onan Gas Generator, 2.8KW, 20AMP
  • Solar Panels
  • AM/FM/CD/DVD Player
  • Backup Camera
  • Bluetooth Stereo
  • Cable Prepped
  • CO Detector/Fire Extinguisher
  • GPS Navigation
  • LCD HDTV
  • LED Lights
  • LP Detector
  • Propane
  • Sewer Hose & Carrier
  • Smoke Detector
  • TV Antenna
  • Exterior Speakers
  • Power Awning
  • Roof Vent
  • Corian Countertops
  • Corner Wet Bath

Redacted from an article by Olathe Ford RV, 2018, and images from WinnebagoInd.com

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Roaming Times by Heather Pieczonka - 3w ago

Two relatively new players have tapped into a growing market for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers with camper and trailer products that can hit the road – and off-road – with a zest for exploration that’s redefining RV design and function.

As Millennials become the largest purchasing demographic since the Baby Boomers, and as some Baby Boomers seek to downsize, SylvanSport and TAXA Outdoors offer towable units that strike at the heart of the REI outdoor retailer demographic.

When asked if “unconventional” best describes SylvanSport’s GO camper, founder and CEO Tom Dempsey agrees, but also offers a more detailed description.

“We’re a ‘category creator.’ We reinvented the travel trailer,” he says. “It’s unconventional compared to traditional campers, but, at the same time, it’s also resilient to classification. Folks have referred to it as an ‘adventure trailer.’ I call it a three-in-one gear hauler/camper/utility trailer. The GO offers so much, it’s difficult to put one tag on it.”

Antonio Gonzalez, president of TAXA Outdoors, the manufacturer of the Mantis, Cricket, Tigermoth and Woolly Bear trailers, says “unconventional” is a fitting term to describe the company’s products.

“Our mission and our vision is to provide our customers with a rugged and comfortable way to camp and experience the outdoors,” he says. “It’s adventure equipment that you can sleep in.”

While each manufacturer espouses similar philosophies of driving design innovation with a shared DNA of purposeful outdoor utility, many of those similarities diverge in each of the manufacturers’ respective designs and functionalities.

SylvanSport Trailers Built for RVers on the Go 

The GO appeals to a broad range of people, according to Dempsey, who says SylvanSport has two distinct customer personas: one is active, young retirees who are either interested in simplicity or downsizing from a larger RV with more complex systems; the other is Millennial young families that want a little more creature comforts than just sleeping on the ground in a tent and who want to bring along amenities without a lot of hassle.

“There’s a broad range of appeal,” he says.

Dempsey grew up as an outdoor sports enthusiast near the Appalachian Trail, climbing, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. He worked as a designer at the Coleman Co. when it made pop-up campers and, later, he started a kayak manufacturing company before he founded SylvanSport in 2004.

“I had a blend of adventure outdoor sports with one foot in the RV world with Coleman. I thought there was an opportunity to bring the two together,” he says.

He created the SylvanSport GO to take the RV to the REI crowd, for which the average age of the REI-buyer is in their late 50s.

“When somebody said they were going camping, it could mean two distinctly different things: camping in an RV; or primitive camping. The two activities and all the related gear associated with each were completely separate from each other,” he says.

A Cross-Pollination Camper

Dempsey started SylvanSport to be a bridge between segments in order to bring outdoor gear technology to the RV “space” and to introduce some of the amenities of RVs to the outdoor adventurer.

“I created the GO to bring processes, materials and ‘design language’ to the RV world from the outdoor gear world,” he says.

The GO camper has an aluminum exoskeleton that’s constructed similar to a mountain bike with molded, plastic components manufactured in his former kayak facility.

“The design is familiar to the outdoor gear enthusiast – they see a product that’s technical and purposeful. When we started, we partnered with strong outdoor brands, such as Kelpie, to make the GO’s tents, and our rack system is compatible with Yakima and Thule rack systems. The overall design is intuitive with high-quality, well thought-out features at every level of its construction. It literally makes people smile.”

It’s also lightweight at 840 pounds, which means it can be towed by any four-cylinder vehicle and can still carry many more “toys” – such as multiple bikes, kayaks and combinations of gear – than is possible with a small, typical camping trailer, according to Dempsey. And despite the GO’s light weight, people don’t have to sacrifice traditional RV amenities, he adds.

“The reason it’s called ‘GO’ is because it’s designed for the weekend warrior, and it can be stored along with other camping gear, prepared and ready to hitch to a car and go on a Friday after work without a lot of preparation,” Dempsey says. “The two-week vacation of taking an RV to a campground is becoming increasingly a thing of the past.”

‘A Gateway Product’

Dealers that carry the GO benefit by introducing a new class of customer into their businesses, according to Dempsey. “It’s a gateway product for people who love the outdoors, but historically haven’t been interested in RVs, and it changes the game for them. We’re bringing a new demographic into RV dealerships and that’s what every dealer wants – the expansion of the pie.”

To keep pace with growth the company is experiencing, Dempsey says SylvanSport recently broke ground on a new 60,000-square-foot facility about a mile from its present location in Brevard, N.C. That new facility is scheduled for completion in late summer.

“As a small, tightknit company with a great culture, we realize that the No. 1 thing we can do for our customers and dealers is to provide unmatched support,” Dempsey says. “An increase in volume doesn’t diminish quality or service. We’ve actually increased quality with volume, as processes become more consistent and efficiencies build.

“When you create a culture that puts your employees first and you hire the best people, then they’ll do a great job of taking care of customers, which, in turn, brings financial results – that’s how we approach life and work. We have significant life goals that aren’t necessarily financially related.”

As 2018 continues to roll along, SylvanSport’s top marketing objective is expanding its dealer partnerships.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into more sophisticated lead management and making sure we marshal leads directly to dealers with follow-through,” Dempsey says. “We also place a tremendous amount of effort into dealer event support with boots on the ground, training staff to champion our products, and providing innovative materials to help sell the product.

“Our goal is to sell through our dealers – not to our dealers.”

TAXA Outdoors: Offering Space-Age Design

TAXA Outdoors’ design culture and products also are grounded in the outdoor life, Gonzalez says, although its enthusiasts are afforded the ability to adventure into “Patagonia country” and off-road territory thanks to the trailers’ tough construction with a space-age flair.

“We have an enthusiasm for the outdoors that breathes inspiration and calculated design and functionality to our campers and trailers,” says Gonzalez, who joined the RV maker shortly after it was founded in 2014, after cutting his teeth at General Motors as an engineer tasked with designing pickups and SUVs.

“We build products that we would use when adventuring outdoors,” he says. “There’s definitely a market – and a growing market – that hasn’t been in the sights of the larger and more mature RV manufacturers. The next generation that’s interested in products like ours are Millennials, and we’re very comfortable in that space, because we’re also young and aggressive with our team of designers and engineers.

“We’re very intentional with our products.”

While Millennials are a target market, TAXA’s four products are not exclusive to that demographic, Gonzalez says. “We have price points that we wouldn’t expect a Millennial, per se, to be the first in line to purchase, such as our largest camper, the Mantis, which has an MSRP of $40,000.”

The Woolly Bear and Tigermoth are more entry-level types of products that are attractive to a younger audience that are affordable and can be tucked away in a garage, he adds.

“We’ve looked at the market holistically, and we’ve introduced products that the new generation can afford while building brand loyalty so that when they’re ready to graduate to a larger trailer or camper, we’re there for them.”

A Different Kind of RV Maker

During the course of a product development cycle, TAXA views itself as boutique specialist.

“We consider ourselves more of a design shop than a manufacturer. Yes, we build products, but we build them because there’s no one else out there that would understand how to build them,” Gonzalez says. “Our brand identity starts with design because no one pushes the design frontier more than we do.” Equally important to TAXA’s design is functionality.

“Our multiple uses and flexibility from one of our units is literally endless,” Gonzalez says. “Our interior skeletons and exoskeletons exude a robust and rugged attitude with high-end materials. Every rivet and bolt speaks to the products’ world-class reliability and durability.”

TAXA’s lean manufacturing processes have numerous built-in quality checkpoints throughout the assembly and it has an extensive PDR process before delivery.

“We never put volume ahead of quality,” Gonzalez says. TAXA Outdoors’ founder and inventor, Garret Finney, is an architect who drives the company’s creative thinking and infuses the design team with energy to push the design envelope. “Design is front and center every day,” Gonzalez says.

Based in Houston, rather than Elkhart, Ind., TAXA’s team is not drawn from the conventional RV designer world. Instead, its RV designers have come from different areas and disciplines, such as NASA – where Finney had worked as a space architect, designing habitat modules for the space station – and Google.

“We don’t consider our walls as ‘walls.’ We look at them as surfaces, which is part of our design lingo and vocabulary,” Gonzalez says. “All our surfaces have a form and function to them and we’re very careful when we select our material, which is why we sell at a premium price.

“We also incorporate pop-up booths with tent sides all the way around that can be opened up so users can connect with the outdoors and feel the breeze coming through the windows. At the same time, our campers and trailers can be taken into bear country and they can feel safe.”

TAXA Outdoors’ units don’t require generators to run appliances and electronics because everything is on a 12-volt system with deep-cycle marine batteries and wired for solar. Campers can be off the grid for up to seven days with some units, complete with fresh water and gray water tanks, according to Gonzalez. Aside from the larger Mantis (2,800 pounds), all TAXA products can be towed with a four-cylinder Subaru.

“We’re a basecamp after a day of hiking in the bush and boondocks,” Gonzalez says, who notes the trailers have 12 inches of ground clearance.

Trailers Have Dealer Appeal

Despite being a relatively new player in the market, TAXA Outdoors continues to make inroads and grow its brand as dealers realize the appeal the units have attracting new customers to the market, according to Gonzalez.

“We’re a disruptor and we function differently, from design to marketing, which involves digital, social media, and videography,” he says. He adds that TAXA also works closely with every dealer partner to help retailers understand their customer base and how to sell the company’s products.

Meanwhile, TAXA will soon be partnering with outdoor gear manufacturers to build out accessory businesses and hardware for the company’s products, according to Gonzalez.

“We’re really aligning ourselves with outdoor retailers more and more – much more than a traditional RV manufacturer could hope to do. We’ll also have a licensing deal with Realtree

Camo to wrap units in camouflage for hunters and fishermen that will be a new segue for us in what we believe is an underserved market.

“The market is changing,” Gonzalez says. “The face of the next generation of RVers is different.”

Redacted and reprinted from RV Pro Staff

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Earlier this month, Winnebago Industries showed images for a Class A all-electric RV platform, built on Motiv Power System’s EPIC series. Winnebago’s EV RV is a first for the industry, and it may act as a sign of things to come.

“Winnebago thought that there were two areas where we could really bring to bear our strength in the area of specialty vehicles. One was to take an RV shell and modify it with subsystems that were more commercial quality, and then sell them into diverse applications for mobile work,” said Ashis Bhattacharya, VP of strategic planning and development at Winnebago. “The second piece of it was that we’ve been modifying our RVs to create ‘Ability-Equipped RVs.’”

Announcements like the EV RV are nothing new for Winnebago. The manufacturer has explored the potential of specialty vehicles for three decades.

“When you think about electric vehicle adoption, we are in the early stages in the industry. One of the concerns people have is mileage,” he said, stressing, “in this case, we are looking for applications which are fairly short-ranged. Urban or semi-urban applications where the vehicle will be at a home base, charging.”

Mobile libraries, schools, blood banks … Applications Winnebago had done for years, but now can do it minus the emissions. The search for an all-EV chassis has taken time, and tests and retests over the past few months.

“It’s not something you can pull off overnight,” he said. “We would never launch something without being pretty confident. This is not a prototype or proof of concept. It’s a go-to-market vehicle today.”

Bhattacharya has sat behind the wheel himself.

“It’s completely silent when you drive it,” he said. “Battery technology is improvingso quickly – the charging infrastructure is coming up so quickly. I mean, just in the last 30 days, we have seen announcements from Walmart and Target that in selective stores, they’re going to have a charging infrastructure put in.”

Various states have incentives for such widescale measures, and these investments, Bhattacharya said, are expected to increase. However, recreation is (obviously) a very key component to the industry, so getting to and from those off-the-grid locations might be some ways off for an EV motorhome.

That’s not to say manufacturers aren’t trying.

Aside from Winnebago’s specialty vehicle foray, the company’s 2019 Travato will use Volta’s lithium-energy storage for a completely generator-free experience. And Mercedes’ recent release of an all-EV version of its Sprinter bodes well for similar innovations to enter the RV industry.

For consumers attracted to short jaunts outside of the city, Bhattacharya said, an electric RV might make sense.

“We’re not looking at those applications in the short term, but we still think that this is a technology which is new and different,” he said, “and it gives us an opportunity to test out the technology.”

The specialty vehicle division itself acts as a sort of testbed or “controlled sandbox” for other products.

What appealed to Winnebago was how mainstreamthe Motiv Ford F53, all-electric chassis was. Since it’s built using standard components, as battery tech improves, the system can be upgraded.

“It’s a pretty flexible architecture,” said Bhattacharya.

“(The Motiv chassis) takes us to the next stage because it gives us a high-capacity battery system. We do see that battery technology is getting better,” he said, also in reference to the new Travato.

Expect to see the EV RV on roads soon.

Redacted and reprinted from RV Pro Staff

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Venture RV recently teamed up with LogicBlue Technology on an exclusive program promoting the LevelMatePRO wireless leveling system. “It’s the easiest and most user-friendly way to use smartphone technology to level travel trailers, and Venture RV has exclusive rights to this feature,” announced Dave Boggs, Venture general manager. LevelMatePRO will be included in all SportTrek Touring Edition, SportTrek, Sonic and Sonic Lite towables.

LevelMatePRO calculates and displays the height required to achieve a perfectly level position. Using an app and your smart phone, a red indicator shows which areas the height needs to be added. When the red indicator turns green, you’re level!

“LogicBlue Technology is excited to partner with Venture RV in introducing the LevelMatePRO as standard equipment on new RVs for the first time,” commented Chuck Leonard, LogicBlue Technology president. “The system offers many advantages over the past way of leveling,” noted Boggs. “You can check your travel trailer level from inside your tow vehicle. The LevelMatePRO gives the user precise information where and how high to add blocks,” Boggs added.

In addition, you can use LevelMatePRO without interrupting your tow vehicle’s Bluetooth connection, and level your vehicle in low-light conditions or even at night. You can also save and recall your campground hitch position for easy reconnection to your tow vehicle.

Boggs may be reached at (800) 768-4016, extension 120, or dboggs@venture-rv.com. A link to the Venture LevelMate PRO flyer follows https://www.venture-rv.com/images/level-mate-pro/Venture-RV-Level-Mate-PRO-Wireless-Vehicle-Leveling-System-Flyer.pdf .

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Roaming Times by Heather Pieczonka - 1M ago

Two relatively new players have tapped into a growing market for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers with camper and trailer products that can hit the road – and off-road – with a zest for exploration that’s redefining RV design and function.

As Millennials become the largest purchasing demographic since the Baby Boomers, and as some Baby Boomers seek to downsize, SylvanSport and TAXA Outdoors offer towable units that strike at the heart of the REI outdoor retailer demographic.

When asked if “unconventional” best describes SylvanSport’s GO camper, founder and CEO Tom Dempsey agrees, but also offers a more detailed description.

“We’re a ‘category creator.’ We reinvented the travel trailer,” he says. “It’s unconventional compared to traditional campers, but, at the same time, it’s also resilient to classification. Folks have referred to it as an ‘adventure trailer.’ I call it a three-in-one gear hauler/camper/utility trailer. The GO offers so much, it’s difficult to put one tag on it.”

Antonio Gonzalez, president of TAXA Outdoors, the manufacturer of the Mantis, Cricket, Tigermoth and Woolly Bear trailers, says “unconventional” is a fitting term to describe the company’s products.

“Our mission and our vision is to provide our customers with a rugged and comfortable way to camp and experience the outdoors,” he says. “It’s adventure equipment that you can sleep in.”

While each manufacturer espouses similar philosophies of driving design innovation with a shared DNA of purposeful outdoor utility, many of those similarities diverge in each of the manufacturers’ respective designs and functionalities.

SylvanSport Trailers Built for RVers on the Go 

The GO appeals to a broad range of people, according to Dempsey, who says SylvanSport has two distinct customer personas: one is active, young retirees who are either interested in simplicity or downsizing from a larger RV with more complex systems; the other is Millennial young families that want a little more creature comforts than just sleeping on the ground in a tent and who want to bring along amenities without a lot of hassle.

“There’s a broad range of appeal,” he says.

Dempsey grew up as an outdoor sports enthusiast near the Appalachian Trail, climbing, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. He worked as a designer at the Coleman Co. when it made pop-up campers and, later, he started a kayak manufacturing company before he founded SylvanSport in 2004.

“I had a blend of adventure outdoor sports with one foot in the RV world with Coleman. I thought there was an opportunity to bring the two together,” he says.

He created the SylvanSport GO to take the RV to the REI crowd, for which the average age of the REI-buyer is in their late 50s.

“When somebody said they were going camping, it could mean two distinctly different things: camping in an RV; or primitive camping. The two activities and all the related gear associated with each were completely separate from each other,” he says.

A Cross-Pollination Camper

Dempsey started SylvanSport to be a bridge between segments in order to bring outdoor gear technology to the RV “space” and to introduce some of the amenities of RVs to the outdoor adventurer.

“I created the GO to bring processes, materials and ‘design language’ to the RV world from the outdoor gear world,” he says.

The GO camper has an aluminum exoskeleton that’s constructed similar to a mountain bike with molded, plastic components manufactured in his former kayak facility.

“The design is familiar to the outdoor gear enthusiast – they see a product that’s technical and purposeful. When we started, we partnered with strong outdoor brands, such as Kelpie, to make the GO’s tents, and our rack system is compatible with Yakima and Thule rack systems. The overall design is intuitive with high-quality, well thought-out features at every level of its construction. It literally makes people smile.”

It’s also lightweight at 840 pounds, which means it can be towed by any four-cylinder vehicle and can still carry many more “toys” – such as multiple bikes, kayaks and combinations of gear – than is possible with a small, typical camping trailer, according to Dempsey. And despite the GO’s light weight, people don’t have to sacrifice traditional RV amenities, he adds.

“The reason it’s called ‘GO’ is because it’s designed for the weekend warrior, and it can be stored along with other camping gear, prepared and ready to hitch to a car and go on a Friday after work without a lot of preparation,” Dempsey says. “The two-week vacation of taking an RV to a campground is becoming increasingly a thing of the past.”

‘A Gateway Product’

Dealers that carry the GO benefit by introducing a new class of customer into their businesses, according to Dempsey. “It’s a gateway product for people who love the outdoors, but historically haven’t been interested in RVs, and it changes the game for them. We’re bringing a new demographic into RV dealerships and that’s what every dealer wants – the expansion of the pie.”

To keep pace with growth the company is experiencing, Dempsey says SylvanSport recently broke ground on a new 60,000-square-foot facility about a mile from its present location in Brevard, N.C. That new facility is scheduled for completion in late summer.

“As a small, tightknit company with a great culture, we realize that the No. 1 thing we can do for our customers and dealers is to provide unmatched support,” Dempsey says. “An increase in volume doesn’t diminish quality or service. We’ve actually increased quality with volume, as processes become more consistent and efficiencies build.

“When you create a culture that puts your employees first and you hire the best people, then they’ll do a great job of taking care of customers, which, in turn, brings financial results – that’s how we approach life and work. We have significant life goals that aren’t necessarily financially related.”

As 2018 continues to roll along, SylvanSport’s top marketing objective is expanding its dealer partnerships.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into more sophisticated lead management and making sure we marshal leads directly to dealers with follow-through,” Dempsey says. “We also place a tremendous amount of effort into dealer event support with boots on the ground, training staff to champion our products, and providing innovative materials to help sell the product.

“Our goal is to sell through our dealers – not to our dealers.”

TAXA Outdoors: Offering Space-Age Design

TAXA Outdoors’ design culture and products also are grounded in the outdoor life, Gonzalez says, although its enthusiasts are afforded the ability to adventure into “Patagonia country” and off-road territory thanks to the trailers’ tough construction with a space-age flair.

“We have an enthusiasm for the outdoors that breathes inspiration and calculated design and functionality to our campers and trailers,” says Gonzalez, who joined the RV maker shortly after it was founded in 2014, after cutting his teeth at General Motors as an engineer tasked with designing pickups and SUVs.

“We build products that we would use when adventuring outdoors,” he says. “There’s definitely a market – and a growing market – that hasn’t been in the sights of the larger and more mature RV manufacturers. The next generation that’s interested in products like ours are Millennials, and we’re very comfortable in that space, because we’re also young and aggressive with our team of designers and engineers.

“We’re very intentional with our products.”

While Millennials are a target market, TAXA’s four products are not exclusive to that demographic, Gonzalez says. “We have price points that we wouldn’t expect a Millennial, per se, to be the first in line to purchase, such as our largest camper, the Mantis, which has an MSRP of $40,000.”

The Woolly Bear and Tigermoth are more entry-level types of products that are attractive to a younger audience that are affordable and can be tucked away in a garage, he adds.

“We’ve looked at the market holistically, and we’ve introduced products that the new generation can afford while building brand loyalty so that when they’re ready to graduate to a larger trailer or camper, we’re there for them.”

A Different Kind of RV Maker

During the course of a product development cycle, TAXA views itself as boutique specialist.

“We consider ourselves more of a design shop than a manufacturer. Yes, we build products, but we build them because there’s no one else out there that would understand how to build them,” Gonzalez says. “Our brand identity starts with design because no one pushes the design frontier more than we do.” Equally important to TAXA’s design is functionality.

“Our multiple uses and flexibility from one of our units is literally endless,” Gonzalez says. “Our interior skeletons and exoskeletons exude a robust and rugged attitude with high-end materials. Every rivet and bolt speaks to the products’ world-class reliability and durability.”

TAXA’s lean manufacturing processes have numerous built-in quality checkpoints throughout the assembly and it has an extensive PDR process before delivery.

“We never put volume ahead of quality,” Gonzalez says. TAXA Outdoors’ founder and inventor, Garret Finney, is an architect who drives the company’s creative thinking and infuses the design team with energy to push the design envelope. “Design is front and center every day,” Gonzalez says.

Based in Houston, rather than Elkhart, Ind., TAXA’s team is not drawn from the conventional RV designer world. Instead, its RV designers have come from different areas and disciplines, such as NASA – where Finney had worked as a space architect, designing habitat modules for the space station – and Google.

“We don’t consider our walls as ‘walls.’ We look at them as surfaces, which is part of our design lingo and vocabulary,” Gonzalez says. “All our surfaces have a form and function to them and we’re very careful when we select our material, which is why we sell at a premium price.

“We also incorporate pop-up booths with tent sides all the way around that can be opened up so users can connect with the outdoors and feel the breeze coming through the windows. At the same time, our campers and trailers can be taken into bear country and they can feel safe.”

TAXA Outdoors’ units don’t require generators to run appliances and electronics because everything is on a 12-volt system with deep-cycle marine batteries and wired for solar. Campers can be off the grid for up to seven days with some units, complete with fresh water and gray water tanks, according to Gonzalez. Aside from the larger Mantis (2,800 pounds), all TAXA products can be towed with a four-cylinder Subaru.

“We’re a basecamp after a day of hiking in the bush and boondocks,” Gonzalez says, who notes the trailers have 12 inches of ground clearance.

Trailers Have Dealer Appeal

Despite being a relatively new player in the market, TAXA Outdoors continues to make inroads and grow its brand as dealers realize the appeal the units have attracting new customers to the market, according to Gonzalez.

“We’re a disruptor and we function differently, from design to marketing, which involves digital, social media, and videography,” he says. He adds that TAXA also works closely with every dealer partner to help retailers understand their customer base and how to sell the company’s products.

Meanwhile, TAXA will soon be partnering with outdoor gear manufacturers to build out accessory businesses and hardware for the company’s products, according to Gonzalez.

“We’re really aligning ourselves with outdoor retailers more and more – much more than a traditional RV manufacturer could hope to do. We’ll also have a licensing deal with Realtree

Camo to wrap units in camouflage for hunters and fishermen that will be a new segue for us in what we believe is an underserved market.

“The market is changing,” Gonzalez says. “The face of the next generation of RVers is different.”

Redacted and reprinted from RV Pro Staff

The post Unconventional RVs appeared first on Roaming Times.

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The teardrop trailer market is generating strong interest from consumers, who appreciate the ability to tow those trailers with even four-cylinder cars.

Since its debut in the late 1930s, the teardrop trailer – once known as “the honeymoon trailer” – has experienced an ebb and flow in popularity unlike any other RV.

Once limited to do-it-yourselfers and a small cadre of enterprising manufacturers, production of teardrops is now spread among a growing list of at least 57 builders across the U.S., Canada and Australia, according to Pat Bremer, owner of the small trailer devotee website www.smalltrailerenthusiast.com. How big is this niche market? Industry experts say the answer is almost impossible to calculate.

Statistical Surveys doesn’t have a category for teardrop trailers and neither does the RV Industry Association. Stat Surveys President Scott Stropkai says retail sales for the broad range of all single-axle travel trailers 20 feet and under in 2017 topped 40,000 units – up about 17.7 percent from 2016. That gross figure includes many of the teardrops plus some non-teardrops. He counted 52 OEMs selling single-axle trailers in 2017.

The teardrop players are an independent lot – just four manufacturers (with an application for membership from one more pending) belong to the RV Industry Association, so the monthly tabulation of wholesale shipments routinely undercounts the segment’s output. The configuration and size limits of teardrops tend to create a lot of mimicry and intense competition.

Teardrops attract the adventurous types and people of all ages, according to Bremer, who’s owned a teardrop for several years and maintained his website since September 2011. In 2017, the site received 520,000 visits.

“What I see in a teardrop owner is that they are the minimalist who doesn’t want a big trailer and just wants a place to sleep and hang outside their teardrop during the day,” he says.

“They’re also the people who like to go off the beaten path to hike and bike, and a teardrop gives you the advantage of setting up shop in a much smaller area where you’d have difficulty with a larger trailer.”

Others would contend that their RV must have basic creature comforts, such as a toilet and shower. And there comes the rub for teardrop manufacturers: What amenities go in a teardrop and what don’t?

RV PRO  recently spoke to three manufacturers to get their views on this unique product.

Liberty Outdoors

One of the more recent entries in the teardrop segment, Liberty Outdoors, features some of the oldest – as well as some of the newest – names in this niche market.

Based in Uniontown, Ohio, Liberty Outdoors – a strategic partnership of Little Guy Worldwide and GFM Industries – was formed in April 2017. It recently introduced the Little Guy Mini Max, a smaller companion to its Little Guy Max that debuted last year. Liberty also has rights to manufacture the Serro Scotty trailer. Both brands are built in a facility in Somerset, Pa., which draws upon a skilled workforce that once built Fleetwood and Coleman tent campers.

Liberty co-founder and Managing Director Joe Kicos says the company changed its business model and overhauled its product lineup in 2017 and now focuses on the Little Guy, Serro Scotty and Parkliner brands. The timing couldn’t be better because North American RVers are rediscovering the allure of the teardrop – a product that resurfaced near the end of the last millennium, he says.

“Our typical buyer is all over the board; I can’t give an exact demographic,” says Kicos, who has been engaged in the teardrop business since 2002, when he began to assemble a distribution network for the Little Guy brand that was built by a contracted builder. “We sell a lot to Millennials, as well as retired couples. Because the teardrops aren’t intimidating to tow, we also sell to a lot of single women.”

Case in point is the Little Guy Max, with a dry weight of 3,100 pounds, which makes it towable by many family vehicles. In April, the company began building the Little Guy Mini Max that weighs a minimum of 1,900 pounds.

Kicos contends he was promoting teardrop trailers at a time when few others were doing so. As a result, he says, his finger is on the pulse of the market, even if his new venture’s footprint is minimal.

“Our buyers are very educated,” Kicos says. “They spend a lot of time on our website. They are quality driven and drawn to our teardrop, which we think is the luxury of teardrop trailers. They know the components we put in this trailer from the tires to the roof won’t fall apart.”

Customer preferences also are all over the board.

“Minimalists just want a ‘bed on wheels.’ The other side of the spectrum wants TVs, air conditioning, a shower, USB and DVDs,” Kicos says. “Most of our customers are somewhere in the middle.”

As for optimum weights, Kicos says it ranges between 500 and 3,000 pounds.

The company’s dealer body numbers between 70 and 80 and covers the U.S. and Canada, according to Kicos. He urges dealers to know their customers and what motivates them, to stress the simplicity of teardrop trailers and the durability of the product.

Liberty Outdoors annually sponsors the “Tearstock Rally” RVer gathering and “opens it up to everybody – even owner of our competitors’ products,” he says. This year’s will be held in July in Mackinaw City, Mich.

Liberty Outdoors also plans to begin production this summer of a retro Serro Scotty lightweight trailer like the Scotty Sportsman.

Forest River’s R-pod

Since its debut at the very first Forest River Open House in October 2008, the R-pod has set the bar for teardrop manufacturers.

“In late 2007 and early 2008, we saw gas prices skyrocket and the economy start to plummet. We took a step back and looked at what kind of product we could introduce to fit a niche: lightweight and affordable,” recalls Kevin McArt, general manager overseeing Forest River’s R-pod, Surveyor and No Boundaries brands.

The R-pod, a spinoff from the phrase “Our Pod,” was born – and it’s been at or near the top in retail sales most years since. Stat Surveys says R-pod was the No. 1-selling single-axle trailer in North America in 2017, with about a 12.5 percent market share.

(Editor’s note: Some purists may question whether R-pod’s configuration truly matches the classic teardrop look, even though it has a teardrop look and feel. For that reason, Forest River didn’t call it a teardrop, and neither does Bremer.)

Some of the unique features of R-pod include its one-piece, seamless fiberglass skin; a low center of gravity with a rear wind spoiler to enhance towability; and a 76-inch box width, which means the tow vehicle does not require extended mirrors for a clear view behind, McArt says.

“Being self-contained, this product has most of the features a larger conventional travel trailer offers – such as a two-burner stove, convection microwave and self-contained dry bath or wet bath – but in a smaller size,” he adds.

McArt concedes that customers will differ on what they expect inside a teardrop. From the outset, R-pod’s creators decided they needed to include the basic “creature comforts” in the trailer.

“The R-pod is fully functional, but there are teardrops with none of those features that are still very successful. It’s all over the board,” he says.

All but two of the R-pod’s 11 floorplans feature slide-outs and more rugged models are built for dealerships in the West and Western Canada.

Forest River builds the R-Pods in Goshen, Ind., and Sheridan, Ore.

Trailer lengths range between 18 feet, 4 inches and 20 feet, 4 inches with unloaded weights between 2,300 and 3,100 pounds and MSRPs between $15,000 and $20,000. R-pod’s major demographic is Baby Boomers, many of whom are downsizing from a Class A or a big fifth wheel, according to McArt.

 

However, “It doesn’t mean Millennials aren’t buying R-pods. Some features we put in the R-pod are geared toward the techie side, like USB ports and Bluetooth stereos that are driven toward Millennials,” he adds. All R-pods are prepped for solar power, which is available as an aftermarket add-on. McArt says weight is a most crucial factor for single-axle, lightweight trailers such as R-pod, and likens the decision on whether to add a new feature to sitting on a teeter-totter. “Everything has to be balanced out very carefully to keep dry weights below 3,100 pounds,” he says. inTech Luna.

Another newer player in the teardrop market is inTech, the Nappanee, Ind.-based manufacturer of lightweight Flyer “adventure trailers,” which debuted its first true teardrop, the Luna, at last fall’s Open House. Luna subsequently earned a Best of Show honor from RV PRO  at the 2017 National RV Trade Show.

inTech solved one of the biggest issues people have with traditional teardrop trailers – feeling confined and claustrophobic – by featuring a wrap-around tempered glass windshield in Luna’s full front fiberglass cap and a 48-inch-wide frameless window on each side of the camper that allow campers to feel connected to the outdoors, according to Rich Schnippel, director of RV operations. Other unique features include all-aluminum cage construction and a transferable warranty.

Standard exterior features include Dexter torsion axles, aluminum wheels and an enclosed LP compartment. Standard interior features include LED lighting, a 12-volt refrigerator, a three-burner LP stove, a stainless-steel microwave oven and AM/FM/CD/DVD. Popular options include a MaxxAir roof vent, a 10,500-BTU A/C with heat pump, a 40-inch LED TV, electric brakes and an upgraded refrigerator.

Luna’s typical buyer is between 45 and 60 years old – either an established RVer or former RVer who enjoys the outdoors, according to Schnippel. Not many Millennials buy the Luna, due in large part to the price point, he figures. A fully loaded Luna has an MSRP of $19,995.

Low tow weights are crucial in the teardrop market, according to Schnippel.

  

“The lower it is, the more vehicles that are going to be able to tow the camper,” he says. “That said, some manufacturers are making sacrifices in overall quality to create a lower weight. The Luna comes in at 1,800 pounds, fully equipped. This still allows it to be towed by quite a few different options, but it’s not in the low 1,100- to 1,200- pound range, which prohibits some of the smaller cars.

“We’ve made a conscious decision to build a trailer that is designed and manufactured to last a lifetime,” he adds. “Sometimes that comes at the cost of a few extra pounds.”

Price points are somewhat important for teardrops, says Schnippel. “The Internet has opened the consumers’ eyes with product knowledge. People learn very quickly which companies are committed to producing a quality product and which companies are easy to deal with should a problem arise.”

He reckons a practical price range for teardrops falls between $10,000 and $20,000 with a few climbing just north of that figure. inTech’s position on amenities mirrors that of the more traditional teardrop builders.

“We’ve had customers come to us and ask, ‘Why there isn’t a toilet? … They like the idea of ultra-small and lightweight, but some aren’t ready to sacrifice not having the toilet or shower,” he says. The unit does have a 40-inch LED TV, he notes.

That being said, inTech will be introducing a larger version of Luna called Sol this summer that will incorporate a shower, toilet and inside kitchen, he says. He hopes it will retail in the mid-$20s. Plans for a tandem-axle teardrop are in the works for later this year. Schnippel says inTech was the first towable manufacturer to offer a transferable warranty.

“We began offering this when we introduced it in 2010 with our motorsports trailers, long before any RV manufacturer would consider such a thing,” he says.

“At inTech, we have a completely different philosophy on manufacturing than other RV builders. We don’t pay piece-rate to the employees; we believe this encourages people to build things as quickly as possible with overall quality being second to quantity,” he adds. Instead, inTech pays its employees a bonus on profit sharing, so when the company makes money, the employees make more money.

He reasons, “Their focus is on building the absolute finest trailer possible; they know that if it’s built right, we will have a lower warranty claim rate and have an overall happier customer. Schnippel encourages dealers retailing teardrops to pursue unconventional channels to reach customers, such as using Facebook and other social media. Additionally, he urges dealers to consider co-marketing opportunities with retail establishments reaching similar consumer demographics.

“Don’t try to market teardrops the same old way you market traditional RVs. Get out to your customers,” he says. “If your local bike shop, wilderness shop, or kayak shop has an open house, or a Jeep event, be there. That’s where you want to be.”

Redacted and reprinted from RV Pro Staff

The post Shedding Pounds, Not Tears: The Teardrop Trailer appeared first on Roaming Times.

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The upcoming Las Vegas show for Land ’N’ Sea, scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19, 2018, will become the supplier’s national Marine and RV show, the company recently announced, discontinuing the RV show usually held in Wisconsin, in January. Land ’N’ Sea’s Las Vegas show added RV suppliers for the first time in 2017. 2018 will change up the venue and dealers involved.“It went extremely well,” said Debbie Bellantoni, events operations and planning manager. “We’re looking to bring all RV customers nationally to the South Point casino.”“The attendance at the show was very strong,” said Tom Schuessler, president of Land ’N’ Sea. “By having a consolidated marine and RV show we were able to provide the dealers with the opportunity to see a lot of crossover products that they might not ordinarily see at just an RV show.”Ditto the supplier’s traditionally marine customers. That crosspollination, said Schuessler, can be elucidating for both sides.“We felt that having a consolidated show gave both our dealers and our vendors – from both RV and marine – a chance to see a much broader product offering and customer base than they would see in a traditional show,” he said.

Tony Paigo, national director of RV sales, mentioned how having the show in Wisconsin was a timing and facility issue. But the real attraction was having a centralized, national show. And for the snowbird states (e.g. Arizona and Florida), the season begins after Thanksgiving, so holding a show leading into that became another beneficial aspect.

This October 2018, between 300 to 350 vendors will be setting up booths at South Point’s 80,000-square-foot exhibit hall with an expected 800 dealerships in attendance – a 20 percent increase. (Last year, the show saw about 270 vendors.) There also will be more dealer seminars than before, as well as giveaways for all-expense paid vacations. And, as in years past, the bowling night and open bar event is anticipated to be a big hit.

“By combining this on a national level, it will also bring in additional vendors,” said Bellantoni, pointing out how the show will expand its RV presence.

“We should be able to attract new dealers,” said Schuessler, “each and every single year.”

Redacted and reprinted from RV Pro Staff

The post Land ’N’ Sea Consolidates RV Show To Las Vegas 2018 appeared first on Roaming Times.

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The upcoming Las Vegas show for Land ’N’ Sea, scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19, will become the supplier’s national marine and RV show, the company recently announced, discontinuing the RV show held in Wisconsin in January.Land ’N’ Sea’s Las Vegas show added RV suppliers for the first time in 2017.

“It went extremely well,” said Debbie Bellantoni, events operations and planning manager. “We’re looking to bring all RV customers nationally to the South Point casino.”

“The attendance at the show was very strong,” said Tom Schuessler, president of Land ’N’ Sea. “By having a consolidated marine and RV show we were able to provide the dealers with the opportunity to see a lot of crossover products that they might not ordinarily see at just an RV show.”

Ditto the supplier’s traditionally marine customers. That crosspollination, said Schuessler, can be elucidating for both sides.

“We felt that having a consolidated show gave both our dealers and our vendors – from both RV and marine – a chance to see a much broader product offering and customer base than they would see in a traditional show,” he said.

Tony Paigo, national director of RV sales, mentioned how having the show in Wisconsin was a timing and facility issue. But the real attraction was having a centralized, national show. And for the snowbird states (e.g. Arizona and Florida), the season begins after Thanksgiving, so holding a show leading into that became another beneficial aspect.

This October, between 300 to 350 vendors will be setting up booths at South Point’s 80,000-square-foot exhibit hall with an expected 800 dealerships in attendance – a 20 percent increase. (Last year, the show saw about 270 vendors.) There also will be more dealer seminars than before, as well as giveaways for all-expense paid vacations. And, as in years past, the bowling night and open bar event is anticipated to be a big hit.

“By combining this on a national level, it will also bring in additional vendors,” said Bellantoni, pointing out how the show will expand its RV presence.

“We should be able to attract new dealers,” said Schuessler, “each and every single year.”

Reprinted from RV Pro Staff

The post Land ’N’ Sea Consolidates RV Show to Las Vegas appeared first on Roaming Times.

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