With the recent wave of lightweight towables flooding the market, each manufacturer faces the challenge of lowering weight without sacrificing quality. After all, what good is a lighter trailer with minimal amenities and lower-quality appointments that will fall apart soon after towing it off the dealer’s lot?
Dutchmen Manufacturing‘s solution is to take its well-established higher-end model – the Denali – and utilize innovative construction methods to help shed pounds … while retaining the high-class feel of its heavier counterparts.
Denali Super-Lite towables are built with a six-way welded aluminum frame with lightweight laminated flooring and walls. The results are the trimming of several hundred pounds. Dutchmen maintains several models – including the 260 FBX-DSL we tested – that are towable by half-ton trucks.
To test those claims, we paired the Denali Super-Lite with the Nissan Titan 4 x 4 Pro-4X.
The Titan we tested features the King Cab and standard bed. This truck is a true crowd pleaser, with its striking Red Alert paint and stately charcoal interior. The 18-inch alloy wheels and factory-applied spray-on bedliner (part of the $1,250 Pro-4X Max-Utility Package) remind you that this is a rugged work truck first and foremost, a point further driven home by the Utili-track channel system with adjustable tie-down cleats in the bed (also part of the aforementioned Max Package).
But there are definitely some appointments that help RVers as well – and I’m not only talking about the beefy V-8 that offers exhilerating seat-of-the-pants acceleration when driving solo. Large, extendible mirrors, again part of the Max Package, offered a terrific view of the entire Denali trailer, and made lane changes a piece of cake. There’s also a small lockable cargo storage hold near the rear of the truck on the driver’s side, which is ideal for campsite tools or other small items. The optional bed extender ($280) makes sure there’s plenty of room to haul firewood or to help your buddy move. The flex-fuel Pro-4X is also compatible with E85 gasoline, which should make the eco-conscious RVer happy.
Inside, the Driver’s Convenience Package ($2,650) gets you leather-appointed seats with heat and exterior-color-matching trim; a four-way power front passenger seat; memory mirrors, pedals and driver’s seat; and an ear-splitting 350-watt Rockford Fosgate premium audio system sure to bring out your inner teenager. XM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth connectivity are also part of the package.
Access to the back seats is made possible with clever wide-open rear doors. The doors open nearly parallel to the truck body – but don’t get carried away with dreams of infinite backseat storage. The back seats, though belted for three passengers, are an extremely tight fit, and my wife can attest to the fact that an infant’s car seat in the back makes it nearly impossible to enjoy the ride in comfort for the passenger in the front.
For safety’s sake, the Titan is equipped with a slew of features, including four-wheel ABS, an air-bag system, a tire-pressure-monitoring system and an overly eager traction control, the latter of which took some getting used to.
The Titan had little trouble handling the Denali Super-Lite on the road, and displayed good manners as we traversed a mountain pass in high winds on our way to the campground. The ensuing 7-percent grade likewise caused little trouble.
In camp, the Denali Super-Lite truly shines. Once the streetside slideout is deployed, the spacious floorplan allows for plenty of elbow room, and our family of four had more than enough real estate to spend time indoors in comfort.
The queen bed at the front of the trailer was comfortable enough, and the carpet-top nightstands on each side of the headboard made a great makeshift bassinette for our 3-month-old infant. The wardrobes flanking the bed were put to good use with duffels, diapers and blankets, and the entire area can be sectioned off using two sturdy sliding doors.
The living area is the real star here; a sofa bed with an air mattress (a $488 mandatory option – don’t ask) was rather comfortable during the day, and even more so when it came time to sleep. A corner entertainment center housing a 26-inch LCD TV with DVD player helped keep the adventurers happy when we weren’t out exploring.
The galley area was perfect for preparing meals and hosting our neighbors for dinner. Along with the sofa, the four-person dinette offered more room than we needed for our “gourmet” dinners of chilidogs and hamburgers, which kept the fridge full, the three-burner stove busy and the microwave zapping throughout the weekend.
The bathroom on the Super-Lite is, well, just how I like it. The area spans the width of the rear, with the shower and sink behind the main door, and the toilet behind another, in a separate enclosure – which leads to an experience free of elbow-bumps, campsite yoga or embarrassing walk-in situations.
Throughout the trailer, storage cabinets, drawers and niches gobbled up all that we could throw at them, with room to spare. Clearly, Dutchmen intends this trailer to be used for more than a Saturday-Sunday getaway, and I don’t think RVers would have any problems spending weeks on end in one – even in this floorplan, the smallest of the bunch.
The trailer was appointed with two mandatory package options (yes, mandatory options), the $3,225 Denali Super-Lite Package (highlighted by the jackknife sofa, aluminum roof trusses and sturdy three-step entry) and the $5,250 Yukon Camping Package (which gets you the TV, stove, oven and microwave, plus a 13,500 BTU air conditioner, among other add-ons).
Despite the creative use of the words “mandatory options,” the Denali Super-Lite is a pretty decent bargain. Though it’s not exactly super-light in comparison to many models out there, it is half-ton towable and packs a surprising amount of high-quality craftsmanship and amenities. When paired with a Nissan 4WD Titan, we can find little to seriously complain about – though you’ll need to bring along another vehicle if you plan on filling all of the Denali’s interior space with happy campers.
Denali RV, Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., (574) 534-1224, www.denali-rv.com.
NissanUSA, (800) NISSAN-1, www.nissanusa.com.