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Old 08-02-2020, 09:16 AM   #1
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Travel Trailer Brands

The wife and I are new to RVing, just starting to look at model, manufacturers and floor plans. I have a general question, are there different levels of manufactures, and if so, what are they? Just like Carnival is the Walmart of cruising, I figure one of the brands must be better than the others. We are looking for ultra light weight travel trailers. Also, can you get pretty much any upgrade in any RV? Like the recliners with heat and massage, do all manufacturers have them as an option. Havenít spoken with salesman yet, they always seem busy with someone buying an RV and since we arenít yet, I donít wanna waste their time.

Thanks in advance, new to the forum and already learning a lot.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:21 AM   #2
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When I bought my toy hauler, I researched for about 6 months beforehand. I knew way more than most of the salespeople I talked to (even about models that were on their own lot). So, I would recommend ignoring or verifying anything that comes out of a salesperson's mouth.

WRT levels, I have heard that all of the major brands have become poor quality. But I think there are some custom brands that might be better. We did buy a major brand (shockwave, made by forest river) and haven't had any major issues in 3 years.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:24 AM   #3
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Nearly all manufacturers have gone to building cheap and little quality. If you really want a better trailer look at Lance, Arctic Fox, Escape and Oliver. I would avoid anything from Forest River or Thor.

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Old 08-02-2020, 10:00 AM   #4
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It's really a crap shoot. Even the expensive units (100K) can have as many or more issues as a cheap (20K) unit can.
Not sure what your budget or RV size is, but Lance, Airstream offer pretty solid units. Yes they too can have issues but they generally have better materials from the ground up.
Others to consider are Northwood MFG and Outdoors RV.
I read RV Business Daily and almost every week they link to the NHTSA recalls. I very rarely if ever see those 4 above needing recalls.

The issue with the 4 above is ones' really expensive, the other is over priced, ones kinda dated for styling and the other is geared towards the boondocking crowd.

Departing from the above 4, you now enter into the mainstream RV world where they're all pretty much built in Elkhart IN. Quality and style are pretty equal.

To get down to the guts of what to pick, it's important to look at how the frame's built, ie, materials, tires, springs, and components and whats the cargo carrying capacity (Higher the better) and what are the standard features.

There aren't quality safety controls for towable RV's like there are for cars and trucks. There aren't strict codes like in a house or commercial building.

It's a slam it together industry with minimal codes and safety requirements with a lack of quality control. On the surface an Rv may look snazzy and cool, but pull out some drawers or remove a few access panels and the grim reality will set in.

In a nutshell find the floorplan you like, see if it checks off the box for solid frame with beefier components and is the dealer a reputable dealer, cause you'll probably need to take it back 1-2 times for warranty work.
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Old 08-02-2020, 10:15 AM   #5
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Best thing you could do is get out and go look.....make up your own mind, as on this forum all you'll mostly hear is negativity about this or that brand.....and it all depends how much you want to spend and once on the road, what type of camping you'd enjoy...and don't buy just to impress anyone but yourself....
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Old 08-02-2020, 10:35 AM   #6
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Welcome. The best advice I got was buy used first. Second, go for a floor plan you like. They all pretty much build the some things with just a few exceptions.

There are only just a few MAJOR manufacturers that make most of the brands out there. Almost all are built in Indiana. They all build affordable entry level and higher end units. In my opinion, stay away from anything built in Indiana. But that's just me. I have a friend buy one of these top tier units from one of these companies. It was nothing but trouble for him. They sell them faster than they can build them. Little time or money is spent on anything that slows down production. Quality in workmanship lacks at all levels. Some are fine, many are not. Again, just my opinion.

If you decide to buy used, find out how to identify rot and invest in a cheap moisture monitor. There is a sweet spot where you can get something used at a good price, use it a few years, and sell it at close to that same price. Be ready to buy because good deals go fast. In my area, the RV lots have buyers always looking for stuff they can buy and the resell on their lots. There are a ton of used RVs available. I found that a lot of people owe more on their RV's than they're worth. They all want to just get out from underneath of them. Especially if they're paying to store it. If you're ready and patient, you will find what you want, at the right price. Just be ready to act when you do.

Look at them all, find what you like and dislike about them. Look at the quality levels between brands. Get a good idea of what you want before you actually buy.

Lastly, do some research on weights and tow vehicles. Just because it works doesn't mean it will work well or be legal. In my opinion, there are too many people running too heavy. Don't be one of those guys.
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Old 08-02-2020, 10:48 AM   #7
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Agree, they will all have problems. I prefer 6 sided laminated units, that utilize all aluminum framing, and foam board construction.
Rockwood/Flagstaff, Lance comes to mind, may be others.
Water leaks are most damaging, and the roof should always receive your greatest attention.
When you make a decision on a unit be sure to inspect, and exercise all systems before purchasing.
Because your new to this venture try and find someone that can help you on this.
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Old 08-02-2020, 10:53 AM   #8
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Humm - I think the trailers being built today are better than 10 years ago. Oh sure they are manually built for a large part but you have solid counter tops, better lamination, better glues, better finish work, and some attention to the frame, axle and tires. You have more features like electric awning, electric stabilizing or even some leveling.

You are seeing more 12v condenser refrigerators, PVC and TPO roofs, better mattresses and solid steps.

Look at a Rockwood or Flagstaff trailer as they start out as a solid unit just for an example.
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Old 08-02-2020, 02:37 PM   #9
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One of the problems I see, is All the major builders have so many different models. Forest River, Thor, and othersc all build very inexpensive models meant for weekend only, then they build upper end models meant for longer trips. and they build about 35 models for each line. And you really can't go by price because some dealers will be charging 40% more than what they should be. I agree buy used, use the internet for pricing concerns. Buy whats going fit your needs don't get in a hurry.
And listen to blogs but don't believe everything you read. About this brand being terrible and this brand being perfect.

I have a 'Terrible' brand 'Forest River' EVO Model for two years and have lived in it 8 months all total and have had no trouble. So far!! Lol take your time!!!
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Old 08-02-2020, 03:24 PM   #10
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Get your hands on them. I had never owned a trailer before the one we have currently, walking around in them seeing how they are put together it becomes apparent what ones are better than others build quality wise.
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Old 08-03-2020, 01:18 AM   #11
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When I started shopping, I think I used as a search resource that has 89 manufacturers listed :

My wife and I each wrote what specs we wanted, ie outside kitchen, slides, etc. I scratched off her 'bunk beds', plugged in the specs, and found the trailer that met the specs. Then did a search for it, found one in NM (cheaper) and another close by in Texas.

The local place knocked several thousand $ and matched the NM price.

I've had one minor issue with my trailer, although several folks had multiple issues with the same trailer. I think most RVs will have some issue.

The best trailer in the world is the one you just bought, the worst is the one you just got rid of.... much like boats!

Good luck in your search.
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Old 08-03-2020, 07:48 AM   #12
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I had a Rockwood for years and it was great but they are a very different company now. I just bought a Grand Design and they seem a bit better than most. All of the brands have horror stories. My neighbor went all out with an Outdoors RV and is having problems this year getting a lot of things fixed. I would agree that Thor does not produce the best products. Winnebago makes nice units but the tanks are very small. I would look at what you want and try to get a leftover unit or a very recent year model. Personally Iíd prepare for stuff to go wrong and make sure you have a warranty on the appliances.
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:25 AM   #13
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I have a 26 foot 2017 forest river, grey, wolf, no slides. Its made for weekends, but I full time in it. I wax the thing 2 or 3 times a year. The front looks horrible, the alm siding paint is about as thick as it was put on by a marker. The press wood inside, swells from moister, so its a constant sand it down and delute expoxy and fix the spots. Not any problem with anything else. Just need to keep an eye on the outside caulking an keep up with it.
Someday when I get a different rig, the first thing ill do is get best quality clear cocking and go around just about everything.
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:43 AM   #14
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Have a Gulfstream Ameri lite 199dd...quality is so so but price was inexpensive for new. Went to camping world and just looked around last weekend and I can say the only difference between mine and the more expensive ones appeared to be just price. Id go inexpensive and fix everything yourself, customize and still save thousands. No regrets here even with all the things I've fixed. Pretty solid unit.

Oh and yes...pick a floor plan that works...thats hard to change...everything else is fixable.
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